Get Smarter Conference to help employers invest in tomorrow’s workforce

Employers are invited to attend the fifth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference, which will focus on how companies can use apprenticeships, internships and mentorships to develop their future workforce and become more productive.

The event will take place Thursday, Oct. 17, from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

The conference is presented with the premise that a smarter Milwaukee is a better Milwaukee, with smarter employees and more profitable companies.

The conference will begin with an expert panel discussion featuring:

  • Megan Anderson, assistant director of the internship program at Alverno College and president of the Milwaukee Area College Internship Consortium (MACIC). Anderson will discuss how the universities and colleges in the Milwaukee area are engaging with employers to train prospective employees through internships. MACIC is a regional collaboration.
  • Nicole Langley, market vice president of Wisconsin and northern Illinois for ManpowerGroup. Langley will present a global overview on the best practices employers are pursuing to develop their staffs. She will discuss the findings of ManpowerGroup’s recent white paper, titled, “The Great Talent Shortage Awakening: Actions to Take for a Sustainable Workforce.” According to the paper, “In 2013, there has been a collective awakening. Globally, the number of employers who believe talent shortages will negatively impact their business has increased by nearly a third. In countries where the problem is particularly acute, many employers express even greater levels of concern. As employers increasingly recognize that the talent shortage threatens their ability to compete, they are still frustrated by the lack of a straightforward solution. They realize that expanding their workforces, increasing compensation or looking to competitors to poach talent are unsustainable solutions.”
  • Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Newson will discuss the best practices for workforce development he is seeing at employers throughout the state. Newson says the state is placing a high priority on workforce development in manufacturing. “Manufacturing contributes nearly $50 billion to Wisconsin’s economy, approximately 20% of Wisconsin’s economy,” Newson said. “The average wage for a manufacturing worker in Wisconsin is $52,000, or $11,000 more than the average wage for all Wisconsin workers. Anyone seeking a new career or considering a different career path should consider one of the many opportunities available in the manufacturing sector.”
  • Sister Joel Read, former president of Alverno College. Read is one Milwaukee’s most renowned mentors. Read is a co-chair of the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Education Committee and was a pioneer in education at Alverno.
  • Will Ruch, president and chief executive officer of Versant, a marketing communications firm. He is a co-author of the book “HR and Marketing Power Partners.” His areas of expertise encompass employer branding, generational alignment, organizational alignment during mergers/acquisitions and culture change.
  • Peter Holbrook, Ph.D., dean of the Cardinal Stritch University College of Business and Management. Holbrook will discuss how universities such as Cardinal Stritch are educating students to master the skills that employers need from their employees.

The panel discussion will be followed by breakout sessions focusing on the best practices for developing internships, apprenticeships and mentorships.

The 2013 BizTimes Get Smarter Conference is sponsored by Cardinal Stritch University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. To register to attend, visit

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