Companies are recruiting for a mix of permanent and seasonal jobs, including full- and part-time. Many of the major employers in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties were represented. Opportunities are there for the taking for those with the right skills.
Jobs are certain to be a key issue in this year’s gubernatorial election. The presumed Democratic nominee, Mary Burke, has criticized Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs plan as ineffective and scant on details. The state GOP, in turn, has criticized Burke’s record as state commerce secretary, and says her jobs plan lacks substance.
Democrats often point to Walker’s inability to meet a campaign goal of creating 250,000 new private sector jobs as evidence that his plan is not working.
Those seeking and creating jobs are more concerned about results than political rhetoric, however. Job seekers want good, well paying jobs, and employers want workers with skills to do the job. Key to meeting the needs of both job seekers and employers is identifying and developing those skills.
On today’s front page, our series on how technology is dramatically changing edicatopm continues with a focus on instruction after high school. Higher education is key to many competitive jobs in our high-tech world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree.
A 2012 report on Wisconsin workforce development quoted research by Georgetown University, which determined that up to 925,000 jobs would become available in Wisconsin in the decade ending in 2018, due to retirements and growth. An estimated 70 percent of those jobs will require less than a four-year degree, according to the study.
That makes schools like Lakeshore Technical College, which offers a variety of one- and two-year degree options, a major player in the jobs training scenario. In fact, many local manufacturers have open positions requiring the very skills that schools like LTC can teach in a one- or two-year period. There is a shortage of workers to fill these positions, that according to one LTC official can pay up to $60,000 annually.
Such training is beginning sooner with high schools in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties having the opportunity to offer introductory manufacturing classes beginning next school year thanks to an Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Lab unveiled at Lakeshore Technical College recently.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch called the facility “opportunity on wheels” during a dedication ceremony.
The lab is one of many ways the school is seeking to prepare the workforce of the future. Experts predict future workers will be more tech savvy, highly trained in specific skills and better able to adapt to employer needs.
All of that requires the proper education, be it at the university or technical school level, but our education system faces other challenges.
Wisconsin is among the leaders in the country with its 90 percent high school graduation rates but that still leaves roughly 14,000 dropouts each year.
The problem does not end there, however. The state’s graduation rate at four-year higher education institutions is just 36 percent, and only 29 percent of those seeking associate degrees at two-year schools do so within three years. Many factors play into these numbers, but the bottom line is that a majority of post-secondary students don’t complete the course of study they embark upon.
That trend needs to reverse if employers are going to find the skilled help they need and if job seekers are available to fill those jobs.
Many students, before going the route of a four-year university education, would benefit from at least exploring two-year institutions like LTC, UW-Manitowoc or UW-Sheboygan. Cost (and resulting student debt) is a major factor in such decisions. Two-year schools are proven to be less expensive, particularly if housing costs are not a factor.
Education is key to a developed workforce and technology is key to education. Take the time to learn more about each, and use that knowledge to choose wisely the path most productive — for you and society as a whole.