About Us

The AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI), in partnership with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/ BIG STEP and Jobs for the Future developed the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship  with grant funds from a U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. A second Labor Dept. grant through the American Apprenticeship Initiative supports the expansion of the IMT apprenticeship to employers and unions in eight states.

A broad coalition of labor unions and manufacturing employers specified the job tasks, skills, performance standards, and helped to design supporting curriculum. Related instruction for the IMT apprenticeship is based upon the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician national industry standards.

The IMT Apprenticeship program is now available and continues to expand.


AFL-CIO Working for America Institute

The AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) national workforce intermediary that assists unions, employers, skill training partnerships, the workforce system, and community organizations by providing employment and training related services that help to create, expand and retain high quality jobs. Since its formation in 1968 (as the Human Resources Development Institute – HRDI), WAI has worked with AFL-CIO institutions (more than 600 state labor federations and local labor councils) and unions, employers, and workforce boards to increase the effectiveness of state and federal workforce systems. The Institute emphasizes increasing the availability of worker-centered employment and training services, giving workers equitable access to job-driven upskilling opportunities, sustaining joint labor-management training partnerships, and advocating industry sector strategies. Contact: Dan Marschall

Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States. We develop innovative career and educational programs and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase economic mobility and strengthen our economy. Contact: Geri Scott


The Chicago Federation of Labor Workforce and Community Initiative 
The Chicago Federation of Labor Workforce and Community Initiative (“CFL Initiative”) is a unique 501(c)(3) developed, sponsored and endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor (“CFL”) in 1994. With 22 years of workforce development experience, we work closely with labor, community organizations, educational institutions and business associations to meet the needs of businesses and job seekers. As active partners in workforce development, the CFL Initiative identifies job seeker and workforce issues, develops solutions and shares best practices. The CFL Initiative is committed to building the Chicagoland community by championing workforce development. Contact: Eileen Vesey

Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio

The Labor Institute for Training 
The Labor Institute for Training (LIFT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports life-long learning and self-improvement through quality, collaborative programs between labor, business, government, education and community partners. Our goal is to advocate for and assist in the development and administration of educational programs that empower the individual to increase their career opportunities. LIFT serves as a workforce intermediary to deliver workshops, training seminars, and technical assistance to support worker-centered programs. Contact: Kathy Clayton


Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI)
HRDI was established in 1977 as the Labor Employment and Development (LEAD) Program operated by the Michigan State AFL-CIO to provide technical assistance to employment and training program operators and labor organizations on issues related to the labor standards and organized labor involvement mandated by the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). LEAD continued to provide such technical assistance under contracts with the State of Michigan.

In 1988, the Michigan State AFL-CIO LEAD program was incorporated as a private non-profit corporation, Michigan State AFL-CIO LEAD, Inc.  The name of the corporation was changed to the current organizational designation, Michigan State AFL-CIO Human Resources Development, Inc. in 1990.  Since its inception, Michigan HRDI has focused on providing employment and training services to displaced workers, economically disadvantaged adults and youth and welfare recipients.

In the period from December 1, 1983, to June 30, 2015, LEAD/HRDI has operated and administered 270 Federal, State and local MWA JTPA/WIA/WIOA contracts. Total expenditures under those contracts exceeded $185,000,000, with over 58,000 Michigan jobseekers served. Contact: Walt Lodes


Keystone Development Partnership 
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO created KDP to assist unions and their employers to form and sustain labor-management training programs.  KDP develops and sustains organizations that address community and workforce programs, to promote labor management cooperation, and to better serve the public. Contact: Stuart Bass

Minnesota and Wisconsin

Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership 
The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership /Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIG STEP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce intermediary dedicated to connecting people to family-sustaining jobs. Its 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. As a workforce intermediary, WRTP/BIG STEP works with the public sector to develop resources, services, processes and programs for their member companies to expand employment and advancement opportunities by upgrading the skills of current employees; and recruiting, training and placing community residents in family-supporting jobs to meet their need for new workers.

WRTP/BIG STEP is dedicated to strengthening the manufacturing sector of the regional economy while expanding access to family-sustaining careers and developing a more diverse, qualified workforce. By starting with the industry’s most urgent workforce needs and challenges, it carries out effective recruitment and training opportunities to connect industry with diverse and skilled workers. As part of this approach, WRTP/BIG STEP has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship which is an innovative new hybrid apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction and creates a new pathway to family-sustaining careers in manufacturing. With a flexible curriculum based on specific employers’ needs, IMT workers for employers ranging from metal to food production. Contacts: Rhandi Berth (Wisconsin); Jerome Balsimo (Minnesota)


National Contacts

AFL-CIO Working for America Institute
Daniel Marschall
Todd Anderson

AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council
Brad Markell

Jobs for the Future
Geri Scott
Myriam Sullivan

State Contacts

Wisconsin – Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership
Mark Kessenich, Director
Rhandi Berth, Vice President of Operations

Michigan – Michigan Human Resources Development Institute
Ron Rose, Executive Director
Walt Lodes, NCDA Master Trainer

Minnesota – Minnesota Regional Training Partnership
Jerome Balsimo, Minn. Industry Coordinator
Todd Dahlstrom, Minn. State Organizing Director

Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio - Labor Institute for Training
Kathy Clayton, Director

Illinois – The Chicago Federation of Labor Workforce and Community Initiative (“CFL Initiative”)
Joseph Costigan, Executive Director
Eileen Vesey, Program Manager

Pennsylvania – Keystone Development Partnership
Stuart Bass, Director