Wanted: More workers to match jobs

June 8, 2012

From madison.com: “Wanted: More workers to match jobs” — With Wisconsin’s focus — we hope — now solidly on the economy, there’s a task beyond creating jobs.

Wisconsin needs more workers with the skills and knowledge to fill open positions, especially in the sectors where demand is expected to grow.

That means more industrial and mechanical engineers with advanced degrees. But it also means more skilled labor, according to the “Talent Shortage Survey” released last week by ManpowerGroup of Milwaukee.

The company, which recruits temporary and permanent workers around the world, found nearly half of all U.S. employers have trouble filling “mission-critical” job openings.

Besides engineers, hard-to-fill positions include information technology staff, sales representatives and accountants.

Yet the No. 1 hardest jobs to fill in America are the skilled trades, according to the survey. And the problem is acute in Wisconsin, said Dennis Winters, chief labor economist for the state Department of Workforce Development.

“We’re getting all kinds of feedback from employers that they have openings and can’t find employees for the jobs,” Winters said Thursday.

For example, advanced manufacturing positions in computer numeric controls are in high demand, he said. These jobs involve programming machines to control tools.

Health providers also lack enough registered nurses, Winters added.

A continuing “skills gap” will hurt our state and nation over time. The ManpowerGroup survey suggests American employers struggle more than their counterparts around the globe in the search for necessary talent.

The hard-to-fill jobs in Wisconsin require education beyond high school, though not always a college degree.

As Wisconsin’s economy recovers, investing in education, workforce training and infrastructure will be key. So will coordination between high schools and post-secondary programs. The value of math and science must be stressed.

Wisconsin has a lot going for it. But our state needs a better match between high-demand jobs and available workers.

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