The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce lobby group is partnering with two state government bodies to draft a 20-year plan to train the next generation of skilled workers.
The plan is tentatively called the Future Wisconsin Project and is expected to begin in January of 2015. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is collaborating closely with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the University of Wisconsin System.
Corporation spokesperson Mark Maley said although the program is still in its early stages, he is optimistic about the impact that it could have on the workforce and economic growth statewide.
Maley said a looming problem is the slow decline of the skilled workforce. With baby boomers retiring even more rapidly, businesses are concerned about the effects this will have on their ability to responsibly expand their business.
“There are businesses in Wisconsin that want to expand and need to expand,” Maley said. “But some are concerned that there aren’t enough skilled workers in the workforce.”
The corporation hopes the effort will implement program initiatives to address issues such as the worker gap and prevent a crisis in the future, Maley said.
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said the UW System hopes to play a key role in the collaborations for the Future Wisconsin Project, but the details of the project are unclear at this point.
The system would like to help Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce “ensure that human capital and job growth continue to increase in the future,” Giroux said.
Giroux also said he envisions the university playing a greater role in creating a stronger economy in the future and said he is pleased the UW System has been included as part of the conversation.
“Most plans are only as strong as their level of participation,” he said.
Giroux said inclusion of the UW System along with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce’s collaboration with the Wisconsin Economic Development Program will only strengthen the program in the future.
“The tricky thing is — we can identify what some of the issues are now, such as the skills gap — but one of the challenges will be taking a look at what will the issues be in 2035,” Maley said. “That being said, there are enough people with expertise with this project that they have confidence it will be successful in the future.”