WMC: workforce quantity, quality threaten growth
Report recommends more state funds to draw talent, keep targeting military veterans

March 17, 2019

WAUKESHA — A report released by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce say the double challenge of quality and amount of workforce in the state could threaten economic growth, especially future growth.

The WMC Foundation, through its Future Wisconsin Project, released a report on Friday that breaks down the state’s workforce challenges and proposes a variety of recommendations to help grow Wisconsin’s workforce and the state’s economy well into the future.

“Wisconsin has a math problem,” said Kurt R. Bauer, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce president and CEO, in a statement. “Our state’s population growth is stagnant, and that serves as a direct impediment to job growth and a strong economic future.”

Friday’s report called Wisconsin Workforce Competitiveness Evaluation used statistics and interviews with state business leaders to determine what challenges the state is facing.

The findings of the report are broken into six areas of focus:

Attract and Retain Talent

Upskill Existing Workers

Improve Career Pathways

Promote Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships, Internships and Other Work-Based Learning for Students

Promote Career Awareness

Reach Disconnected Groups “Wisconsin’s workforce challenge can be broken into two groups: attracting more working-age people and upskilling the workforce to be ready for the jobs we have available,” Bauer said. “We need a robust marketing campaign that brings more people into Wisconsin and we need to be a national leader when it comes to apprenticeships, internships and training opportunities for current and future workers.”

The ability to attract and keep skilled workers is an urgent need in rural Wisconsin, according to the report. The report found that business financing to health care and quality of life were all factors in finding available workers with the right skills. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported that employers have trouble finding people with the right technical skills, and 64 percent indicate difficulty finding individuals with good “soft” skills such as reliability, teamwork and communication.

The report includes some recommendations to address the workforce problems:

Increase state funding for talent attraction and retention initiatives to make Wisconsin the unquestioned national leader in securing the state’s future workforce.

Craft incentive programs to attract various types of individuals: high-skill, middle-skill, and entry-level workers. Use Department of Workforce Development data to fine-tune the people and skills to be targeted.

Continue to emphasize military veterans as a key target for talent attraction efforts.

Increase coordination of efforts between employers and the public sector, and between local, regional, and state agencies, with goals of consistent messaging and reduced duplication of effort.

To read the full report, go to: https://www.wmc.org/programs/the-future-wisconsin-project/