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Report details "skills gap" in Wisconsin job market

by
Governor Walker in Weston
Governor Walker in Weston

MADISON (WSAU)  A business coalition says Wisconsin needs to find $100-million in a tight state budget next year to train workers for the many industrial jobs that sit vacant. Competitive Wisconsin – a group of business, labor, and education leaders – says the so-called “skills gap” has become a crisis. And if Wisconsin doesn’t address it, major employers could leave for states that will.

In a new report, Competitive Wisconsin says the state will have quote, “major shortages in skull clusters essential to staffing the state’s major industries” in the next decade unless something is done now. The proposed tax money would match grants to schools, businesses, and other groups with strategies to address their needs for talented workers.

The state now spends $15-million a year on employee training. And by increasing it to 100-million, the group says Wisconsin will spend close to what neighboring Minnesota spends on workforce development. Also, the group says two governor’s workforce councils should be replaced with a new organization that focuses on developing industrial talent. It would help coordinate efforts to train-and-provide workers for jobs that are getting more complex in fields like engineering, health care, and metal fabrication.

Mark Tyler, who heads the state Technical College Board, cautions that public budgets are still tight. He believes the workforce funding is a good idea, but it should not be paid for by cutting higher education or something else.

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