Today, special consultant for business and workforce development Tim Sullivan submitted his long-awaited workforce development report to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, calling for bold actions to address the gap between the skills needed by the state’s employers and the skills of the available workforce.
The report, “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin Workforce Development,” is a comprehensive review of the background and current issues pertaining to workforce development in the state.
The 126-page report has a specific focus on the phenomena commonly referred to as the “skills gap.” Job creators from all across Wisconsin have identified a skills gap between the jobs they have available and the workers applying to fill them. Manufacturers, in particular, identify the skills gap as one of the top barriers to business growth.
In February, Sullivan volunteered his expertise to help identify barriers to business development and job growth in Wisconsin. His recommendations focus on workforce, employment environment and policy issues. Sullivan serves as chairman of the Council on Workforce Investment and as chair of the College and Workforce Readiness Council.
“This report is a framework to repair the skills gap in Wisconsin. Our recommendations do not require governance changes. This report is the beginning of a plan that should be expanded upon and reviewed regularly. Some of the ideas are complex and will take time to implement, while others can be immediately acted upon. But what Wisconsin cannot do is idly sit by and expect the challenge to disappear. If Wisconsin wants to regain its competitive edge, the State needs to act now,” the report stated.
The report advocates for development of more workers with technical and associate degrees from technical colleges.
“As a final consideration, the way workforce training is funded could be tied to Unemployment Insurance (UI). When the economy improves, instead of reducing employers’ UI payments to the lowest possible level, the state could remain 0.2 percent above the base employer fee. That money could be used to fund workforce development,” the report stated.
“I want to thank Tim Sullivan for all the hard work he put into this report,” Walker said, “Employers often tell of their challenges getting enough skilled workers to fill the jobs they have open. We are looking to make dynamic changes in workforce development and this report is a good starting point for true reform.”
Sullivan prepared his recommendations as part of a collaborative effort with the Public Policy Forum, a nonpartisan research group from southeastern Wisconsin. Sullivan also collaborated with Competitive Wisconsin, a nonpartisan coalition that engages business and education, in their parallel research on skills clusters and workforce development.
Sullivan previously served as president and chief executive officer of Bucyrus International Inc.
To view his complete report, click here.
Sullivan will outline the recommendations of his report as the opening speaker at the BizTimes Get Smarter Conference, which will focus on strategies for developing a smarter workforce and enlightened executives in southeastern Wisconsin. BizTimes invites its readers to attend the Get Smarter Conference, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. The full speaker lineup for the conference will be announced later this week. To register to attend the conference, visit www.biztimes.com/smart.