Developing Our Workforce

Investing in Wisconsin Workers Today and the Workforce of Tomorrow

Wisconsin’s workforce is among the best in the country and supporting our workers is key to spurring economic growth.  Our goal is to help our workers become among the most prosperous and innovative in the country.  That’s why Governor Walker has invested over $100 million in workforce development initiatives, like Wisconsin Fast Forward, aimed at equipping workers with the skills they need to find jobs in the modern workforce.   

Around our state employers in high-demand areas, such as manufacturing, information technologies, and health care, are looking to hire workers.  There are thousands of job openings related to manufacturing posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin webpage.  The problem is many in today’s workforce lack the skills and training needed to work in these highly technical fields. These openings, coupled with the tens of thousands more projected to be available due to an aging workforce, are family-supporting careers.

Governor Walker hears from employers with job openings across the state in high-demand fields, including manufacturers, who require their employees to be drug-free for safety and other reasons, as well as from other employers who need workers who are able to pass a drug test.  That’s why his 2015-17 Biennial Budget includes several Workforce Readiness Initiatives to help move people from government dependence to true independence:

  • Helping people move from government dependence to independence: Implement drug screening, testing, and treatment mechanisms to increase workforce readiness of individuals receiving unemployment insurance or public assistance benefits in certain work-based programs at the Departments of Children and Families, Workforce Development, and Health Services.
  • Those who fail the drug test will be offered the opportunity to participate in drug treatment and given an opportunity for job training.

The 2015-2017 State Budget further builds on our multi-faceted economic development plan and invests millions more in worker training and workforce development programs to help employers fill vacancies quickly, grow and train our workforce, and further reform entitlements to be a hand up, rather than a hand out, to encourage the freedom and prosperity that comes with work. 

Additional Workforce Readiness Initiatives in the Governor’s budget include increased funding amounts for vocational rehabilitation and apprenticeship programs enacted last session, as well as:

  • Financial Aid: Maintains higher education financial aid and increases funds for technical education scholarships for high school graduates who excel in career and technical education courses.
  • Transform Milwaukee Jobs Program: Continues $5 million annually, and increases funding by $3 million over the biennium to extend the program to Racine, Beloit, and high-need rural areas of the state.
  • Career Planning: Continues funding for academic and career planning for schools, so children can prepare higher education and a career.
  • Wisconsin Works: Reduces the time spent on Wisconsin Works benefits from 60 months to 48 to encourage more rapid placement in jobs.
  • Continuation of funding for Wisconsin Fast Forward at $15 million over the biennium.