Senior manager supports Wisconsin’s Workforce Services through community, employer connections
For the past 25 years, Ricardo “Ric” Ybarra, a senior manager for Wisconsin Works (W-2), has dedicated his efforts to helping clients become gainfully employed. Ybarra has built strong connections with employers and hiring managers in the region and is passionate about connecting people with the right businesses.
“We develop business relationships and enhance those relationships by connecting them with the talent that we have in our programs,” he said, adding that his team works with nearly 630 local businesses in the area.
Ybarra explained that an employer relationship goes much further than a simple meet-and-greet and an occasional email.
"We have real relationships with hiring managers," he said. "If an individual from one of our programs applies to a business in our network, we have the contact at the site follow up on that resume or application and make that connection real."
Workforce professionals follow up with employers, coordinate weekly virtual events and monthly job fairs, and ensure both applicants and employers have opportunities to connect, Ybarra said.
“We’re the largest provider of workforce programs here in Milwaukee County,” he added. “We have a great relationship with all of our community partners because our programs allow them to build off of the services that they provide and then leverage what we're able to do.”
For every person who walks through W-2’s doors, Ybarra and his team look at the whole person, not just the applicant. From the Spanish-speaking community to the ever-growing refugee and immigrant communities, he believes everyone has something they can bring to Southeast Wisconsin’s economy.
Ybarra and his team also assist the immigrant and refugee communities in Milwaukee. They are currently planning a job fair open to newly arrived immigrants to connect them with potential employers.
“We are not only welcoming new arrivals to the U.S., but also those who arrived up to five years ago who are looking for better career opportunities,” Ybarra said, adding that during the years they have been in the U.S., their English language skills have improved, skills mastered, or they may want to change career fields.
In addition to his workforce services background, Ybarra has experience in international education, specifically working with students from Central America and the Caribbean. Ybarra was recently named to the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Southeast Wisconsin's board of directors. In this role, he plans to continue the organization’s work of leading and connecting workforce development efforts in the seven-county region for small- and medium-sized businesses.
"I want to help them fulfill their needs and also help them understand how the workforce system can help them prosper," he said. "Small- and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. Hispanic- and Latino-owned businesses were incredibly resilient throughout the pandemic. We want to share that message of success to the Latino community and other minority- and women-owned businesses to really offer our support and expertise."
Over the years, Ybarra has kept his vision of helping the greater Milwaukee area and improving and strengthening its economy. However, his mission is close-to-home, and his work is from the heart. His team regularly participates in community events, is active in different service organizations, and is present around town.
"This job has just been so rewarding. We've come so far in positively impacting the lives of so many people," he said.