Fixing the workforce problem
May 17, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Fixing the workforce problem” — GREEN BAY – The ongoing technology explosion continues to create a paradox in the workplace.
It is an economic phenomenon where there is high unemployment, but a shortage of skilled workers.
Leaders of the state’s chamber of commerce have been trying to find ways to close the gap.
A listening session was held Wednesday morning in Green Bay.
At Bayside Machine Corp. in De Pere, co-owner Rob Salesky says he sees the paradox first-hand.
“I think it’s frustrating coming from people saying that there’s no jobs, there’s no jobs, there’s no jobs. But there really is. There’s a lot of jobs,” said Salesky.
Dozens of business leaders and educators say solving the workforce shortage begins with upgrading manufacturing’s image.
“We need to convince people that manufacturing is not dead, and not going away. It didn’t all go overseas, and the jobs that are there though are much more highly skilled,” said Dr. Jeff Rafn, NWTC president.
The president of NWTC says the school is trying to keep up. Dr. Rafn says new classes in high-demand programs are being added all the time.
“Five years ago, we had a thousand students in programs in manufacturing, today we have 2,000,” said Rafn.
Classes in welding, machining and electro-mechanics are being offered to area high schoolers and to adults who may be starting a new career.
“They’ve got to make an investment in their skills and then they will be able to take those skills anywhere, and adjust as the markets move up and down for different companies,” said Rafn.
Jim Morgan is the president of the Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce Foundation. He has met with more than 300 businesses and held 54 listening sessions.
“We’re trying to make sure that we’re putting kids in line to be successful, have jobs, and to be able to have a worthwhile life and a good career,” said Morgan.
At Bayside Machine, Rob Salesky says an expansion is in the works. He says there will be new jobs for welders and machine operators.
“If we can work collectively through the workforce development, and build up those situations, then maybe we can get those people to take a look at it. I’m excited for it. This is where it all starts,” said Salesky.
Similar listening sessions will be held at sixteen technical colleges around the state.