Gov. Scott Walker unveiled plans to increase funding to strengthen workforce development in Wisconsin as part of his biennial budget plan.
According to a statement, Walker wants to add $132 million to programs focused on allowing people access to valuable skills for getting jobs.
Walker plans on allocating $100 million to economic development programs and initiatives that provide training for workers. A large part of this $100 million targets initiatives for the Wisconsin Technical College System, the Department of Workforce Development, K-12 programs and the University of Wisconsin System, the statement said.
WTCS spokesperson Conor Smyth said that although Walker has not yet formally announced his budget, they are looking forward to learning more about the details of the investment.
“We definitely see it as a sustainable investment,” Smyth said, expressing the organization’s interest in continuing to develop career pathways.
The state’s technical college system currently has a unique system based on employer interest in particular industries, allowing individuals to get their education one piece at a time, he said.
Having an entry-level skills component in place, followed by intermediate and advanced components, permits students to come and go as their careers progress, Smyth said. He added this approach is of interest and value to the system.
“The entire approach is based on addressing the skills gap,” Smyth said. “We’re interested beyond manufacturing. There are other sectors and industries who need skilled workers as well.”
According to Walker’s statement, recent studies show an increasing need for more health care professionals as well.
The Medical College of Wisconsin is one of the organizations receiving set to receive these funds. According to spokesperson Maureen Mack, the college would receive $7.4 million for infrastructure investment and an additional $1.75 million to expand family physician training programs.
This $7.4 million will go toward expanding the MCW campus to Green Bay and central Wisconsin, Mack said.
The additional $1.75 million will go toward training additional family medicine physicians and funding MCW programs. Mack said MCW trains physicians with the hope they will remain in Wisconsin and alleviate the shortage, making this investment a sustainable one.
“Starting up medical schools is an expensive endeavor,” Mack said. “We’re certainly very grateful to the governor for addressing this important cause in his budget.”
In addition to this $100 million, Walker proposed an additional $32 million in funding to create new systems to help strengthen workforce development, including developing a labor force market system that tracks job vacancies and matches candidates with careers suited to their abilities, the statement said.
Walker’s announcement of the proposal was met with much praise from the organizations slated to receive funding.. The Wisconsin Economic Development Association, Wisconsin Hospital Association, Wisconsin Health Information Organization and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released statements applauding Walker’s decision to reinvest in economic and workforce development in the state.
Walker will introduce his full budget plan for 2013-2015 on Feb. 20.
State Politics Editor Alice Coyne contributed to this article.