Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker applauded the bipartisan passage of legislation to support workforce development in the state Tuesday.
"The state that leads the way in closing the skills gap will also lead the way in job creation," Walker said. "This bill is the next step in our efforts to ensure workers have the skills they need to fill the family-supporting jobs available now and in the future. I applaud state lawmakers and their bipartisan support to help move Wisconsin forward."
Governor Walker requested the legislation last month as part of his $100 million agenda to develop the state workforce. He thanked State Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) for authoring the bill.
Highlights of the Wisconsin Fast Forward legislation include:
- Worker Training Grants - Funds $15 million over the biennium for Department of Workforce Development grants to both public and private organizations, such as technical colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, regional economic development organizations, and Wisconsin businesses, providing training to new and incumbent workers. The matching grants ensure businesses, as well as the state, are invested in the outcome of the worker training programs funded, Walker said.
- Creates the Office of Skills Development – The bill funds four full-time positions to administer the worker training grants. With the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Technical College System, economic development agencies and businesses, the office will adjust training grants to current and changing workers' skill needs and emerging skill clusters, providing workers with a responsive, flexible, and valuable training resource.
- Creates the Labor Market Information System – The bill develops a state-of-the-art system through the DWD to track job vacancies and link unemployed workers to openings they are qualified to fill or to training they can complete to become qualified, helping the unemployed return to the workforce faster.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 33-0. The Assembly vote last week was 94-4.
Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said, "Today, Wisconsin's working, middle-class families were offered a hand up. After cutting Wisconsin's technical college aide by $72 million in the last budget, it's refreshing to see Senate Republicans join us in reversing some of those devastating cuts. While this bill only provides a small Band-Aid to an enormous gash in the budgets of our technical schools, there's no doubt it's a step in the right direction."