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Inspire Program Connects Students and Employers

If you drive around the Jefferson and Dodge County region, you’ll see what has become a familiar sight – banners and signs saying “Now Hiring.” Area billboards announce job vacancies and starting wages. Local employers are struggling to fill positions, a problem that can significantly impact a business’s ability to expand and grow.

Employers and educators are exploring collaborative approaches to ensure that the next generation is career ready. Inspire Madison Region is a regional talent-development initiative of the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) that addresses these issues. Inspire supports the Academic and Career Planning process in all public secondary schools in our region, which includes Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties.

Providing real-time information about local employers and industries, the program enables employers in the region to connect with educators, students and their parents to inform them about careers and to nurture the future workforce through a variety of means, including company profiles, online career-coaching and experiential learning activities. Inspire is free of charge to all schools and educational centers throughout the region with a Career Cruising license.

Participation is also free for employers, who play a critical role in exploring new public-private approaches to closing the skills gap. The Inspire program offers a unique opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the business community, the education community and our future workforce in Jefferson and Dodge counties. To date, all of the nearly 70 school districts in the region participate in the Inspire program. The region’s technical colleges and full-service job centers also participate.

“The team at MadREP is pleased with Inspire’s rapid growth over the last couple years,” said Adrian Crabb, Talent & Education Specialist for MadREP. “Employers from all backgrounds have joined and continue to do a great job of informing the future workforce about careers at their companies and in their industries. We encourage more businesses from Jefferson and Dodge counties to join the initiative and reach the talented young people living in those communities.”

To ensure that the Inspire initiative is successful, employer participation is vital. Currently, 509 employers in the region participate, representing industries such as manufacturing, construction, financial services and health care. Program administrators are hoping to increase the participation of employers in Dodge and Jefferson counties, particularly manufacturers.

Manufacturing is a leading industry in Jefferson and Dodge counties. It’s an attractive career option on a lot of fronts, offering salaries and benefits that exceed many industries. The average manufacturing employee makes $81,289 a year compared to $63,830 for the average U.S. worker. Programs like Inspire can connect students with career paths they may not have otherwise considered.

Employers that enroll in the Inspire program can benefit greatly by helping to develop their company’s future workforce. Having a robust pipeline of local talent is crucial as businesses expand and grow.

To learn more about Inspire Madison Region, visit

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