MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers announced on Wednesday his plans to spend $130 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on combatting the state’s crisis-level workforce shortage. Unfortunately, the governor’s fragmented approach ignores Wisconsin’s biggest challenges and provides little oversight to ensure the state attracts and retains a talented workforce.
Instead of relying on a bureaucratic proposal, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – urged Gov. Evers to provide funding for a coordinated statewide effort.
WMC proposes the governor take the following actions:
End the $300 federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits:
A new Morning Consult poll revealed that nearly two million people would reenter the workforce nationwide if the expanded unemployment benefits were eliminated.
Fully fund a statewide talent attraction campaign:
The State Legislature appropriated $3 million over the recently signed two-year budget for a talent attraction campaign. Gov. Evers should greatly expand this funding through a coordinated statewide effort to bring people into Wisconsin.
Invest targeted funds in STEM education and technical training for Wisconsin’s youth:
Wisconsin needs to better prepare students for the jobs available in the state by ensuring they have the proper skills to pursue these careers – not just a four-year college degree. This means the state must have targeted funding for additional STEM courses, technical training and an expansion of programs like dual-enrollment.
“Wisconsin’s business community appreciates that the governor has acknowledged our state has a workforce shortage,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer. “But, Gov. Evers must also understand that this disjointed plan will spend a lot of federal funds without solving our short- and long-term challenges.”
WMC renewed its call for Gov. Evers to meet with its members to talk about solutions to the workforce shortage. In a letter sent on June 14, WMC invited Gov. Evers to discuss the topic with its members and has yet to get a response.
“Instead of complicating matters with this proposal, the governor should take a simple and coordinated approach to attracting and retaining talent,” added Bauer. “First, we must end the federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Then we must reinstate the talent attraction campaign to show off our state’s high-quality of life and invest further in preparing our next generation for the family-supporting careers we have in Wisconsin.”