Our Mission

WRTP/BIG STEP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce intermediary dedicated to connecting people to family-sustaining jobs.

Our mission is to enhance the ability of public and private sector organizations to recruit, develop, and retain a more diverse, qualified workforce in construction, manufacturing and emerging sectors of the regional economy.

By being industry led, worker centered, and community focused, WRTP/BIG STEP helps under-employed, under-served, and under-represented individuals succeed in well-paying careers while exceeding industry’s workforce needs.

The Latest

Recruiting for the 1st TrANS Road-Building Class in Racine!

We are planning a recruitment for TrANS Tuesday (4/24) at 9 am that interested individuals can call and sign up for.

Flyer can be downloaded here.

Racine Office Open for Business!

“I know people from Racine are hard-working, good people,” said Racine Mayor Cory Mason. “If you give the skills, and the opportunity, they will succeed. That’s what today is really about – BIG STEP and Gateway, together with the city and the county, are going to blow the doors of opportunity wide open so that average working-class people right here in the city of Racine can walk right through there and succeed.”

An opening ceremony was held April 9 for the new WRTP/BIG STEP office at Gateway Technical College in downtown Racine. The new office will expand the reach of WRTP/BIG STEP and the services offered at the Gateway Racine campus, with the aim of training workers for the skilled trades.

The Wisconsin Building Trades Council donated $100,000 to WRPT/BIG STEP as a sign of the group’s commitment to back the training that will be ongoing at the group’s new office at its new Gateway’s Racine Campus location. Terry McGowan, President and business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, presented the check, while telling the audience, “This is a sign of our commitment to get this thing done and build it right.”

As WRTP/BIG STEP President and CEO Mark Kessenich stated, “They know they need to have a talent pipeline, they know they will have to respond to the demands of the Foxconn project and everything related to that. So, it’s about industry bringing BIG STEP to Racine and forging that partnership in order to connect residents to career opportunities in the trades.”

Training is offered free of charge. Interested participants can learn more by calling 262-619-6560.

WRTP/BIG STEP’s Racine Office Opening Mentioned in Journal Times!

“RACINE — A multitude of jobs promise to come with Foxconn, and a new job-training program has arrived to help make filling those positions a little easier.

The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnerships/Big Step program officially opened Monday in Gateway Technical College’s Technical Building, 1001 S. Main St.”

Read the full story here.

WRTP/BIG STEP Mentioned on WISC Channel 3 in Madison!

“MADISON, Wis. – Sometimes the biggest barrier to full participation in economic growth is the absence of a direct link between employers looking for workers, and under-employed and under-represented populations of willing workers.”

Read the full story here.

Hunter Scott on Becoming an IMT Graduate

Hunter Scott, a recent graduate of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) apprenticeship and now proud journey IMT is living proof that challenging yourself as an adult learner brings great gifts. Hunter had been working for Ocean Spray for over ten years, when the IMT was introduced at a union/ management meeting; he wanted to upgrade his skills.

Read the full story here.

WRTP/BIG STEP’s Mark Kessenich speaks with Wisconsin Public Radio

“…today, we’re going to talk to people who have devoted their lives and work to making the city they love a better place. These local leaders have all received Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDIs) for their work improving their community’s aesthetics, making job training and education more accessible, eliminating a food desert and more.”

Listen to the segment here.

New IMT Graduates in Minnesota!

“At a small ceremony at the Circle Pine headquarters of BERMO incorporated 4 of 5 graduates of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprentice program beamed with pride. BERMO, Inc is a, “premium manufacturer of metal components.” ”

Read the full article here.

MC3 Class Gets Hands-On Training

Our MC3 class is helping out our office, measuring walls to calculate how much paint is needed and stripping off old wall paper, all under the supervision of a journey painter.

Success Spotlight: Lues Jimenez

“You have to keep perfecting yourself, making yourself better. I wanted a better future; a better career.” Before going through the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship Program, Lues was working an entry level job at Renaissance Manufacturing Group (RMG), but wanted to work his way up in the company.

Read more here.

Check out our new “Partners Opportunities” Page!

We have a lot of great partners, and we do our best to inform our clients of all the opportunities out there. To do more, we created a page dedicated to opportunities being offered by our partners. If you click on the button in the left side column on this page, you can go straight to the page! Or you can go to www.wrtp.org/partner-opportunities/ to access the page.

WRTP/BIG STEP mentioned in Urban Milwaukee

“Because the project received a $54 million developer-financed tax-incremental financing district, Northwestern Mutual was required to have 40 percent of project work hours completed by unemployed or underemployed city residents. Also, the project was required to have 25 percent of the project’s costs completed by certified Small Business Enterprises.

Northwestern Mutual exceeded both of those requirements. The company achieved a 43.5 percent rate on the Residents Preference Program requirements and a 31.4 percent rate on SBE hiring.

Workers received training through employment agency WRTP/BIG STEP. Prism Technical Management & Marketing Services administered the project’s RPP compliance.”

Read the full article >>>

WRTP/BIG STEP & Literary Services of Wisconsin Form Unique Partnership

Recognizing that the lack of a high school diploma is often a barrier to those interested in pursuing a career in the construction trades, WRTP/BIG STEP and Literacy Services of Wisconsin created a unique partnership to overcome this barrier.


Graduating Our First Class of HSED-MC3 Graduates

It is well documented that 39% of students in Milwaukee schools are not graduating each year. In Milwaukee, 19.8% of the population age 25 and over have not completed high school and 9,000 young adults are added to this group each year. To address this issue Literacy Services of Wisconsin and WRTP/BIG STEP designed the PI 5.09 High School Equivalent Diploma (HSED) program, which also enrolls participants in an apprenticeship readiness program (the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum), helping them break into the construction and manufacturing fields. The instruction is tailored to students’ individual abilities and goals and customized to the employer’s specific qualification standards utilizing WRTP/BIG STEP’s employer partnerships to further chances for advanced employment. This competency-based HSED, which is approved by the Department of Public Instruction, provides participants with an integrated, seamless path to follow toward earning one of the many manufacturing or construction jobs looming on the horizon in Southeast Wisconsin.