Time To Act: Close the Skills Gap

In order to turn our economy around we must have a plan to fix the skills gap. We can start by reforming education to prepare students for jobs of the future.

Governor Walker is working hard to improve the business climate in Wisconsin and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.  Wisconsin moved up 12 spots in the national rankings released by CNBC America’s Top States for Business 2012 to a current ranking as the 17th best state to do business.  We are moving in the right direction under his leadership.

To turn this economy around faster and get more people employed, our focus must be on job creation—and on helping build an available pipeline of talent so employers have the workers they need to fill job openings. As a legislator, I will support Governor Walker to reform our state government, will support policies and legislation that help Wisconsin businesses compete in theglobal economy, and I will support our workforce to have the skills that they need to succeed and to earn sustainable wages.

I will work on legislation to reform our complex tax structure and make it more competitive:  less burdensome, less restrictive and less costly-- so Wisconsin will be a top location choice for globally competitive companies.  

The market is changing and moving fast and our state government has to move fast too.  I have worked in the Walker-Kleefisch Administration and I understand that government must move at the pace of business.  Education is key to Wisconsin's  future growth and prosperity and I will support laws that help Governor Walker find cost-effective solutions to improve learning and employment outcomes.

I will advocate for better use of technology in K-12 education to enable flexible and lifelong learning. I will help reform the way we educate our kids so more students graduate from high school ready to succeed at work or college.

Wisconsin is among the nation’s leaders in taxpayer’s funding of the technical school system.  It’s time we consider this an investment, and determine if it’s meeting workforce demands, and best utilize the technical college system and the state’s extensive two year college program to make sure we are efficiently and effectively investing our education dollars.

I will help raise awareness that an associate degree can provide hands-on skilled training that bachelor’s degrees do not provide, especially for entry-level and middle skilled positions.  As jobs change in this highly evolving economy, workers can pursue more education and training and move up the employment ladder. To help accomplish this, I will collaborate with key partners to develop better workforce initiatives and job training programs so we prepare workers with the right skills for the jobs in demand. 

I will work on aligning the relationships between employers and nearby schools to build an available pipeline of talent.  I will work with students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, faculty and business leaders to promote the message that manufacturing careers are worth pursuing in our 21st century economy.   When I toured manufacturing plants around our state with Lt. Governor Kleefisch, I saw first hand that we need to dispel the myth that these are dirty, dumb and dangerous jobs.  These manufacturing jobs are technologically advanced, the facilities are clean and safe, and these careers provide a family supporting income. 

Our employers already are facing critical shortages in finding local workers with the right skills.  New, more advanced skills and higher training requirements are essential for our workers to successfully compete in the 21st century marketplace. I will help realign our educational system so our schools are preparing our kids for the jobs of the new economy.

As I coordinated the Small Business Roundtables held around our state by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in 2011, the discussion turned to employability skills or ‘soft skills’.   Small business owners told us that finding workers who have job readiness skills was a serious issue preventing them from expanding. Employers repeatedly mentioned that if they could find workers who had basic skills and attitudes allowing them to get along with other workers and to make good decisions and to be reliable, then the business owners would bear the cost of on-the-job training to right-size these employees’ skills to the requirements of the jobs. 

This skills gap issue remains one impediment to an employer’s ability to be competitive in today’s economy.

The time to act is now.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jerry Bean January 16, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Jeannie is right and the Walker administration's dismantling of the educational system has been nothing but a positive. In one week we saw moochers at two companies including Golden Guernsey and whipped into the gutters to fend for themselves with only their wits. This is why we supported Walker twice. Those who are talented will open their own businesses and survive. The rest of the uneducated masses can be paid low wages and subjected to our whims. keep us going Jeanine, we fell to 42nd in job creation with Walker and Rebecca running the ship. With a little luck we'll hit 70th and none of our residents will understand it given they can no longer add.
B. Guenther January 18, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Good morning Jerry. I am only going to take one of your points here because, frankly, I don't have the time to go into the rest of your rant. Golden Guernsey was run into the gorund for one reason and one reason only. Eric Holder. The federal government allowed a venture capital group that had no previous experience running a dairy to purchase the company and thereby subject it to its failure. Had anyone involved in that deal (mostly liberals) had half a brain they would have realized this and ensured that a competent company would have purchased it. You can sit back and blow with the wind Jerry but the bottom line is that it was an epic failure on their part and working Wisconsonites lost.


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