YPWeek celebrates Wisconsin’s young professionals and companies’ efforts to retain them

Madison YPWeek Speaker Crawl, 2016

Madison Speaker Crawl at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
during YPWeek 2016

Millennials, the younger generation of professionals constituting an increasing proportion of the workforce, tend to choose where they want to live based on a location’s features and benefits—not just on where available jobs are. Due to this trend, cities and states are adding their voices to the traditional employer-based efforts to attract workers. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and its partners are exploring innovative ways to attract new talent and encourage recent graduates from the state’s colleges and universities to put down roots here.

One successful pillar of this strategy is YPWeek, which brings together young professionals in communities across the state at purposefully chosen locations that integrate unique cultural assets with meaningful learning or social interaction. The activities engage the Millennial workforce in conversations and experiences that are important to them while educating employers on the important role these functions play in workforce retention.

Created by Milwaukee-based NEWaukee in 2012, YPWeek went statewide in 2015 with the support of WEDC. “Seeing what NEWaukee accomplished promoting Milwaukee as a premier destination for young professionals, we felt the same formula could be applied to other cities throughout Wisconsin,” says WEDC’s Rebecca Deschane, who helped build connections among NEWaukee and like-minded organizations across the state interested in retaining and attracting talented young people. WEDC’s investment in replicating the YPWeek platform reflects the important role Millennials have in the state’s future talent pipeline.

YP-Week_LogoNow in its third year and with 25 participating communities, more than 175 events and 30 public projects, the expansion of YPWeek Wisconsin (which in 2016 won a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council) positions the state as a national leader in Millennial engagement and dynamic workforce and leadership development—and as an ideal destination for young professionals to live and work.

“YPWeek taps and channels the passion Wisconsin’s young professionals bring to the workplace to help build and sustain Wisconsin’s strong workforce and excellent quality of life,” explains Angela Damiani, CEO and co-founder of NEWaukee. “Through YPWeek, we have created the nation’s most comprehensive and collaborative talent engagement strategy.”

Wisconsin is an ideal location for recreation as well as business. Increasingly, companies are incorporating this sense of place into their recruitment strategies. The Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin initiative was launched by WEDC to coordinate these efforts and promote Wisconsin’s family-friendly environment, natural beauty, positive business climate and outstanding quality of life. From recreational activities to cultural events, the state’s lively city centers, charming towns and picturesque rural areas hold something for everyone.

This year, YPWeek participants have collaborated with WEDC on this shared communication platform by incorporating it into their programming, leveraging “Think-Make-Happen” as an organizing theme.

“Companies across the globe are quickly realizing that demographic trends and innovation in manufacturing and product development have shifted corporate location strategies to increasingly focus on talent pipelines and workforce availability,” explains Tricia Braun, WEDC deputy secretary and chief operating officer. “Keeping the quality workforce that we’ve grown here in Wisconsin, as well as attracting workers from outside of the state, is vital for the future of our businesses and communities. WEDC and its many partners, including the state’s young professionals’ groups, are working together to promote Wisconsin as a destination for personal, professional and business success. That’s why it’s important for us to celebrate those who are putting the Think-Make-Happen concept into action.”

In addition to YPWeek Wisconsin, WEDC continues to work with its partners to develop strategies to help attract and retain a skilled and talented workforce. Those efforts are expected to include enlisting university alumni groups in recruitment and attraction efforts and promoting Wisconsin’s quality of life.

For more information on YPWeek Wisconsin, please visit www.ypweek.com.