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Workforce

Employers continue to struggle to find enough workers with the right skills. Given Wisconsin’s demographics trends, this economic challenge will not be fixed on its own. WMC believes the state needs to take an active role in convincing workers from outside Wisconsin to move here with their families for career opportunities. At the same time, the WMC agenda takes steps to ensure a homegrown talent pipeline has the skills necessary for the careers available in Wisconsin.

Workforce

Agenda

The biggest issue facing employers is the lack of workers. Wisconsin must continue to tell our story and market the opportunities that exist here for workers and families through a continued and sustained marketing campaign in the Midwest, along with other similar regions of the country. A focus on UW System graduates and military personnel should also continue

In the past, too many college graduates left Wisconsin for job opportunities elsewhere. While that trend has slowed and by some reports reversed, we need to work to keep as many homegrown graduates as possible, while also working to draw recent graduates from around the country. To do so, the state should consider incentives such as tax relief to encourage recent graduates to stay in Wisconsin and to move here from other states.

Younger and low-skilled workers need the opportunity to begin their climb up the career ladder by gaining experience through entry level jobs. Raising the minimum wage will increase the cost of employing entry level workers, resulting in fewer job opportunities for workers entering the workforce who need to build skills and experience for their career.

The state has been collaborating with employers to upskill current employees for new and upcoming job opportunities. These efforts, such as the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, should continue and be improved upon to be reactive to the ever-changing needs of employers. Intertwined with this is the Labor Market Information System, which aims to better connect employers and job seekers based on skills. This should also be continued in order to better connect workers with available jobs in real time

Wisconsin is facing a worker shortage crisis. Immigration is one necessary piece of the workforce puzzle that needs to be solved. Although not a state issue, the business community believes we need smart and practical immigration reform that begins with securing our border, but also allows ample opportunities for the best and brightest who want to come to our country to work and be productive

WMC successfully worked in recent years to make Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state. We also supported the passage of other key employment law provisions, such as restricting local governments from enacting costly HR mandates on employers. Unfortunately efforts are underway in Madison and Washington, D.C. to undue those vital reforms. We oppose any efforts to repeal right-to-work and the other key employment law reforms enacted in Wisconsin in recent years.

Registered Apprenticeships started in Wisconsin in 1911, and provide real on-the-job training for employees while meeting the workforce needs of employers. While historically used primarily for construction, manufacturing and service sector jobs, in recent years Wisconsin expanded the program into healthcare and information technology. We should continue to expand the training model into new industries and encourage more employers to utilize the apprenticeship model.

Despite strong efforts in this area in recent years, too many students still do not have access to industrial arts/tech education in high school, and are instead still pushed toward college and four-year degrees. School districts should better educate students and parents of all career options, including entering careers in manufacturing and construction, by increasing access to coursework in the industrial arts/tech education, followed by hands-on learning through apprenticeships and internships. Connecting students to these pathways through career counselors, ensuring the public knows how schools are performing through the school report cards, and linking new school funding to these efforts are ways to ensure accountability and success.

Employers take their obligation to ensure a safe workplace for both employees and customers very seriously. For many employers, maintaining a drug-free work environment is critical to ensuring the safety of their employees. WMC will oppose efforts to legalize the recreational use of marijuana because doing so will endanger the safety of workers.

worker in a manufacturing facility
Rachel Ver Velde

Questions?

If you would like to learn more about our stance on education reform or have questions, contact Rachel Ver Velde, WMC’s Director of Workforce, Education and Employment Policy.

Workforce

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