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Latino Academy’s Untapped Workforce Career Fair will connect manufacturing and transportation employers with the region’s workforce

Latino Academy student Miriam Morales obtained her CDL Class A in 2021. She currently works at Dane County Highway Department. (Photo supplied)

The Latino Academy of Workforce Development will host its first annual career fair today where 26 regional employers will showcase and interview for current career opportunities in the greater Madison area. The career fair will take place from 3-7 p.m. in Elver Park on Madison’s west side. 

“We have been leading the work with the transportation training through our CDL (commercial drivers license) training and also our manufacturing training in collaboration with Madison College, so we keep hearing employers who are looking for employees and looking for talent,” Latino Academy of Workforce Development Executive Director Baltazar De Anda Santana tells Madison365. “There are students trying to find these great opportunities, so that’s why we decided to have the first-ever transportation and manufacturing career fair.”

Baltazar De Anda Santana. File photo.

The Latino Academy of Workforce Development is south-central Wisconsin’s newest Latino-led nonprofit organization, moving out from being under the nonprofit Vera Court Neighborhood Center, Inc. to becoming its own independent organization.

Employers in the manufacturing sector have been experiencing a skills gap due to the rapid advancement of technology in the industry. To bridge this gap, organizations such as Advanced Manufacturing Solutions (AMS) have been offering training programs that prepare individuals for careers in advanced manufacturing. These programs include specialized training in computer-aided design (CAD) software, robotics, and other emerging technologies that are transforming the industry. By collaborating with organizations like AMS, employers can find skilled workers while also ensuring that individuals have access to quality training and job opportunities in the manufacturing sector. The career fair hosted by the Latino Academy of Workforce Development is an excellent opportunity for job seekers to explore these training programs and connect with employers in the manufacturing industry.

De Anda Santana says that his students are looking for access to Wisconsin’s growing transportation and manufacturing sector labor shortages and that today’s Untapped Workforce Career Fair was developed in partnership with Wisconsin’s high-demand manufacturing and transportation industries seeking new connections with Wisconsin’s fastest-growing worker population. 

Ausencio Cortez and his family at the Latino Academy CDL graduation last year. Ausencio has a CDL class A license.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to start getting to know these companies,” De Anda Santana says. “One thing that happens a lot is that our students keep applying to the same companies because they don’t know about all these other companies that probably offer better opportunities. The companies that we are bringing [to the career fair] pay an average of $23 an hour with great benefits.”

Genicel Cabarcas at the Latino Academy’s manufacturing class at Madison College. This class is in partnership with Madison College.

The Untapped Workforce Career Fair is open to the public and Latino Academy staff will be on hand to assist with resumes and facilitate employer introductions. There will also be music, refreshments and free childcare on site. Altogether, there will be 26 regional employers who will showcase and interview for current career opportunities. 

“We are so happy with the number of employers we will have at the career fair. We are going to have food. We are going to have kid’s activities and it’s just a wonderful opportunity to come in and start a career in transportation or manufacturing,” De Anda Santana says.

The Untapped Workforce Career Fair will take place Wednesday, June 22, 3-7 p.m. in Elver Park, 1250 McKenna Blvd. Pre-registration for the event on the Latino Academy website is encouraged but not required. Those who register in advance and attend the career fair will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card.