The Workforce Report: October’s Guest Editorial

Jeff Clark – CEO, Waukesha Metal Products

Wisconsin’s economic vitality is tied directly to our ability to develop a ready workforce with the necessary skills to meet tomorrow’s high-demand careers.  At the root of this challenge is our need to provide an educational journey for our children that includes exposure and exploration of the many career paths available for our future talent.  The Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment (CWI) recognized this and presented a 2014-2018 Strategic Plan.  This plan outlined 21 recommendations including some pointed directly at how to equip students with the tools necessary to align their academic journey with career exploration so they could be better prepared to enter the workforce.

All Pre-K-12 schools in Wisconsin are required to provide academic and career planning (ACP) to students at the 6th grade level by 2017 (ACT 20, Wisconsin Statute 115.28 (59)).  The CWI built on the ACP by recommending we ensure students have the opportunity to experience work-based learning, and the Wisconsin school report cards include measurements on this and career readiness.   Data is king!  Access to workforce requirements and projections are critical to a student’s exploration.

Coordination between educators, students, employers and parents is key to providing the best experience.  Thought-leaders structure their talent acquisition strategy to include strong connections within the Pre-K-12 system.  Those ahead of the curve already integrate mentoring programs with work-based learning opportunities throughout their organizations.  But as an employer, it can be confusing, time–consuming and difficult to navigate through the many channels to connect with students.  Small and medium sized businesses face even tougher challenges because of limited resources.  We are all busy, but talent is or will be a limiting growth factor in the near future for all of our businesses.

Engaging students is imperative in building awareness of career opportunities and the skill requirements necessary to succeed in our businesses.  Inspire Wisconsin has the platform built and deployed in several regions easily providing structured access to participating school districts.  This program easily connects interested employers and students, which is in-line with the CWI recommendations.  Successful statewide implementation could strengthen Wisconsin’s ability to build, access and retain our talent resources.


Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Wisconsin Statute 115.28 (59)…/statutes/115.28