Kleefisch praises education partnerships in Sheboygan

August 14, 2013

From sheboyganpress.com: “Kleefisch touts Sheboygan jobs effort” — When it comes to being successful in a global economy and creating new generations of workers to compete in the skilled marketplace, Sheboygan County has a lot to be proud of.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was in Sheboygan Monday morning to give the keynote address during the Lakeshore International Network and Knowledge Exchange, or LINKE, Wisconsin Global Trade Conference, and took a few minutes to talk about Sheboygan County’s role.

“If you consider Sheboygan a little community, I will tell you it is the little community that could,” Kleefisch said. “You guys in Sheboygan County actually have some really good things going on.”

LINKE is a business consortium that provides local companies with networking opportunities and relevant information on global business trends.

In addition to Kleefisch, the other keynote speaker was FBI Special Agent Byron Franz, who works with corporations, colleges and universities to protect intellectual property and trade secrets.

Kleefisch said one of the best examples of Sheboygan County’s can-do attitude is the partnership that has developed between education, government and the private sector to identify the needs employers have and to train students to fill those needs.

That includes the partnership between Lakeshore Technical College and area companies that are helping to fund an expansion of the advanced manufacturing areas of the Trade and Industry building.

“In Wisconsin, we have more manufacturers per capita than any other state in the country so that’s a really big deal, particularly here in Sheboygan County,” Kleefisch said. “ I would argue that because we have such a great partnership between our private sector and government and education, you will start to attract a lot of interest in investors and also folks who are considering relocations and joining the supply chain of this area because they’ve got a workforce that is ready.”

A ready workforce, she said, is key.

“We have 30,000 jobs available every single day, open, on our jobcenterofwisconsin.com website … and yet we still have folks who are on unemployment,” she said. “We need to make sure the folks who are on unemployment are gaining some of the skills our employers need their employees to have in order to get employed. That’s fixing our skills gap.”

Another issue Kleefisch talked about Monday was the growing opportunities exporting presents for Wisconsin companies.

She said that according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 97 percent of the exports from the United States are made by small businesses, if small business is defined as having 500 employees or fewer.

“Isn’t that cool?” Kleefisch said. “97 percent. Who would have even thought?”

That statistic presents an opportunity for Wisconsin businesses, because the market is growing.

“We know that for the first time … since 2007, we’re actually seeing our traditional economic markets overtaking emerging economic markets in a promising future,” Kleefisch said. “That means the U.S. and Japan, others, Europe, with established economic markets, are actually seeing a very promising future, even more promising than the emerging markets like, say, China and India and Brazil. That’s very exiting.”

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