Developing Our Workforce

Investing in Wisconsin Workers Today and the Workforce of Tomorrow


Our goal is to help our workers become among the most prosperous and innovative in the country.  Governor Walker has invested over $100 million in workforce development aimed at equipping workers with the skills they need to find jobs in the modern workforce.    

Wisconsin is facing a significant skills gap, which needs to be immediately addressed.  The ‘new’ job growth forecast between 2012 and 2015 in skilled trades, manufacturing, and construction is estimated to be 63,6001, which doesn’t include the replacement of retiring workers.  Tens of thousands more jobs are projected to be available over the next decade.  Filling the positions currently held by these retirees requires immediate action2.

Additionally, we need to be training workers in the career fields of our future.  By 2018, 66 percent of Wisconsin’s 3.2 million jobs will require educational training above a high school degree, but below a bachelor’s degree3.  Despite that, only 25 percent of high school seniors want to attend a technical school4.  Getting students into these fields and training current working-age adults needs to be a priority.

Targeted investments in the Wisconsin Technical College System and traditional K-12 education will ensure our citizens have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.  At a time when thousands of Wisconsin’s unemployed are looking for work, there are thousands of production jobs related to manufacturing posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin webpage5.

We can help address these issues by being nimble in training current workers and helping employers fill vacancies quickly.  By doing so, we can create more jobs and encourage growth that will hasten our state’s recovery.  

The Governor’s workforce development plan includes the Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative, which invests $15 million in worker training grants awarded by the new Office of Skills Development.  This initiative includes the creation of a new Labor Market Information System, which will connect job seekers and the unemployed with employers in need of workers.  The System will also help students decide what careers are growing and will be in need for workers in the future.  This information will help better prepare them for jobs of tomorrow.

The workforce development plan is a multi-faceted approach providing flexible solutions, including getting able-bodied people on Food Stamps employment training.  The most recent budget provides a $31 million investment in training programs for these individuals.  Beyond just traditional educational investments, Governor Walker’s budget provides worker training grants in areas of immediate need, including training for healthcare-related jobs in rural and high poverty areas.  The workforce development package provides a hand up to those who are able to work—not simply a hand out.

The 2013-15 Biennial Budget also includes funding for:

  • Increased Aid and Flexibility for Workforce Training: Increasing state aid to technical colleges by $5 million in general aid, as well as giving flexibility over $22 million in existing worker training-related funds.  WTCS can use these funds to incentivize training program expansion in areas of high-demand.  It also requires performance and results to be tracked allowing WTCS to adjust its curriculum based on future skills gaps. 
  • Explore, Plan, ACT, WorkKeys: Funds $12.1 million over the biennium for the ACT, the WorkKeys, which measures work readiness, and the precursor Explore and Plan tests to help parents and teachers understand which students are ready for college or a career by the 11th grade.  Using these tests will allow schools to provide students with opportunities to begin taking AP and other advanced course work, while ensuring 12th graders who are behind get the remedial education they need to catch up.  These tests are vital to measuring student academic growth in high schools for the purposes of state school report cards.
  • Academic and Career Plans: Following the recommendation of the College and Workforce Readiness Council, Governor Walker will ensure every student, beginning in 6th grade, has the opportunity to create an academic and career plan based on his or her interests.  This individualized plan, developed and frequently revised by parents, teachers, and guidance counselors, will help ensure every child is on track to graduate with, not only a diploma, but also a plan.  Nearly $1.1 million will be provided to school districts to give each student in 6th-12th grade in the 2017-18 school year has the opportunity to create an academic and career plan based on his or her interests.

Governor Walker is focused on closing the skills gap, creating jobs, and growing our economy now and into the future.  Creating jobs and growing our economy is the best way to balance budgets and raise Wisconsin’s standard of living.  Governor Walker is focused on making investments that will lead to greater performance, prosperity, and independence for all Wisconsinites.


1 Wisconsin Economic Outlook, Department of Revenue, July 2012
2 Wisconsin’s Future Population, 2010-2040: A First Look at the Next 30 Years, David Egan-Robertson, July 2012.
3 The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development, Tim Sullivan, August 2012
4 Gold Collar Career Overview
5 Department of Workforce Development Data