Office of the Governor Scott Walker
Office of the Governor, Scott Walker - Press Release

Governor Scott Walker Announces Workforce Readiness Plan

Investments in 2015-17 State Budget proposal build on initiatives to help people get family-supporting jobs in high-demand fields

Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Press Release

De Pere/Mosinee – Governor Scott Walker today is making stops at Wel Companies in De Pere, and Sulzer Machine & Manufacturing, Inc. in Mosinee, to talk about the investments in workforce readiness included in the 2015-17 State Budget proposal.

“We know employers in Wisconsin have jobs available, but they don’t have enough qualified employees to fill those positions,” Governor Walker said.  “With this budget, we are addressing some of the barriers keeping people from achieving true freedom and prosperity and the independence that comes with having a good job and doing it well.”

Helping People Move from Government Dependence to Independence:

Some employers in high-demand fields, including manufacturing, require their employees be drug-free for safety and other reasons.  To assist those looking to secure these positions, the budget includes a plan to require drug testing of those who are applying for or receiving benefits from programs, which may include unemployment insurance, FoodShare, Transform Milwaukee, transitional jobs, and others.

Those who fail the drug test will be offered the opportunity to participate in a drug treatment program, free of charge, as well as job training.

Workforce Readiness Initiatives in Governor Walker’s 2015-17 State Budget plan:

  • Technical College Tuition Freeze – Applies to those pursuing training in high-need occupations.
  • Technical College Performance Funding – Increased to 100 percent of state aid.
  • Financial Aid – Maintains higher education financial aid and increases funds for technical education scholarships for high school graduates who exceed in career and technical education courses.
  • Transform Milwaukee Jobs Program – Invests $5 million annually, and extends to Racine, Beloit, and high-need rural areas of the state, at $3 million over the biennium.
  • Wisconsin Fast Forward – Continues investments at $7.5 million annually, as well as maintaining increased funding for apprenticeships and to help people with disabilities who want to transition to the workforce.
  • Career Planning - Continues funding for academic and career planning for schools, so children can prepare higher education and a career.
  • Wisconsin Works – Reduces time spent on Wisconsin Works from 60 months to 48, to encourage more rapid placement in jobs.
  • Teacher Licensure – Creates alternative pathways to allow a candidate with real life experience to pass a competency test to gain a teacher license. 
  • Veterans Employment – Consolidates initiatives in the veterans’ agency to elevate them and improve their focus, waives CDL fees for veterans, adds credit for prior learning for veterans with military training to the performance measures used to aid technical colleges.
  • Victory Spark program – Invests $500,000 to maintain program, a business accelerator for veterans that has resulted in 39 startups and 150 new jobs.

Investments in Workforce Readiness in the 2015-17 State Budget proposal build on Governor Walker’s priority of developing our workforce, through the Blueprint for Prosperity and Wisconsin Fast Forward, and other legislation, with more than $100 million in investments so far:

·         Sixteen technical colleges received almost $28 million to reduce wait lists, and opened up availability for almost 5,000 students to get training for high-demand fields.

·         Collaborative projects among high schools, technical colleges, businesses, and others are increasing opportunities that result in industry-recognized certifications for high school pupils. DWD announced in May intent to award 30 grants for up to 949 high school pupils and could involve employment at up to 153 employers.

·         Under Governor Walker’s Better Bottom Line initiative, which helps people with disabilities enter the workforce, DWD eliminated a waiting list for people with significant disabilities seeking assistance to achieve independence and self-sufficiency through employment.

·         4,415 individuals with disabilities successfully reached their employment goal and entered the workforce, the highest level in 15 years.

·         Project SEARCH program, which helps high school students with disabilities transition into employment is expanding from seven Wisconsin sites to 27.

·         In 2014, DWD announced approximately $12.5 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to equip almost 13,800 current and new workers with the high-demand skills since the program began in 2013.

·         DWD has also awarded funding of approximately $2.1 million in grants for school‐to‐work programs across the state to train up to 949 high school pupils.

·         Following investments in Youth Apprenticeship (YA), enrollment for the 2013-14 school year reached 2,469, a 10 year high for the YA program.

·         DWD's Office of Veterans Service (OVS) was in the top ten states nationally with a 65 percent Entered Employment Rate for Veterans served by OVS.  Wisconsin was tied for 2nd place nationally with an Employment Retention Rate of 83 percent.

·         After inheriting a UI Trust Fund deficit of $1.4 billion, the Trust Fund now has a positive balance this year following the enactment of historic reforms by the Governor Walker and the Legislature.

·         New Transitional Jobs Program helps low-income and low-skilled workers transition to employment, providing immediate income and work opportunities. 

·         Expanded WAT grant program allows more employers to participate.

Wisconsin’s Growing Need for Skilled, Motivated Workers

As of this week, there are nearly 70,000 open positions posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin website (https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/.  Over the next eight years until 2022, it is estimated that there will be 760,200 job openings and replacement positions that need to be filled in Wisconsin.

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