Waukesha County teachers attend a Careers Uncovered
program through the Waukesha County Business Alliance.
Educators take a day to learn about Tri-North Builders,
a construction management company, so they can share
useful information with their students.
WAUKESHA — It’s an issue we hear about over and over
again. Employers in skilled trades industries such as
manufacturing and construction, as well as in areas such
as information technology, can’t find workers to fill
their open positions.
It’s a dilemma that organizations like the Waukesha
County Business Alliance have been trying to alleviate
in partnership with local school districts for years.
With the help of a new director of talent development,
the Alliance has unveiled a workforce development
strategy to address the pressing shortage of skilled
workers. The strategy falls under the “Develop” pillar
of the Alliance’s mission, which involves getting
educators informed on local businesses and exposing
students to as many career opportunities as possible.
“Our goal is to make sure that employers have skilled
talent coming to them and that students understand that
there are great
careers available for them right here in Waukesha
County,” said Suzanne Kelley, president and CEO of the
Alliance. “The strategy comes directly from feedback
from the business community.”
first component of the workforce development strategy
involved educators visiting local businesses first-hand
so they are knowledgeable about different career
pathways. Through a program called Careers Uncovered,
groups of 10-15 educators visit these companies. So far,
there have been Careers Uncovered programs at local
construction and manufacturing companies.
have always encouraged parents and educators to be
involved with our programs. As we were starting to
really understand the needs of academic and career
planning, we saw some larger need,” said Robyn Ludtke,
director of talent development.
next part of the workforce development strategy involves
the implementation of a college and career readiness
measurement framework that will allow businesses to
gauge whether a potential employee is the right fit for
them. Called a Workforce Readiness Dashboard, the
framework will look at traditional milestones such as
test scores, but also encompass factors such as school
attendance, a student’s certifications and their
involvement in other organizations as well as life
skills. The finished product is expected to be ready for
use in the 201819 school year.
started getting feedback that the business community was
really interested in seeing some some measurements in
career skills and business skills,” said Ludtke.
final component of the workforce development strategy is
the formation of a quarterly Superintendent Roundtable,
which will give Waukesha County superintendents the
chance to connect and discuss workforce needs in
high-growth industries. Ludtke says it has been common
to find a disconnect between how quickly educators can
implement a curriculum to address workforce needs.
Ludtke says the Waukesha School District is one that has
really figured it all out when it comes to identifying
the needs of today’s workforce.
“Ongoing work with the business community and our staff
is really bringing everything together,” said Todd Gray,
superintendent of the Waukesha School District. “We’ve
responded by broadening and deepening our curriculum.”
mentioned that 240 students are enrolled in classes
related to career and technical education.