Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Secretary emphasizes change

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The state secretary of the Department of Workforce
Development spoke to University of Wisconsin social work graduate students
Monday about the commitment to create change despite challenges posed by
Wisconsin?s slowing economy.

Secretary Roberta Gassman currently serves in the cabinet of
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, leading the Department of Workforce Development in
strengthening Wisconsin?s work force and aiming to develop workers? skills and rights.

?I grew up very much a child of the 1960s and a believer in
advocacy and social change,? said Gassman.

In her early career, Gassman worked on civil rights ?
including the women?s rights movement, child care and domestic abuse ? and building
the Madison community through education.


?My advice is not to let attitudes and misinformation lead
people astray,? she said. Gassman added the biggest lessons she learned were to
take chances, demonstrate confidence, network and volunteer.

After the speech, students debated whether confidence alone
is enough to tip the scale during a job interview.

?It takes a minute to impress someone,? said Sarah
Patterson, a second-year graduate student in social work.

However, other students said it takes a long time to
cultivate professional relationships.

Students in the social work seminar will graduate in May and
were eager to hear Gassman talk about current job prospects in social work and
public policy.

According to Gassman, her job includes following the
Wisconsin Idea to ensure the borders of the university extend to the borders of
the state and knowledge brought into the state by the university leads to
skills and independence of individual workers.

?Our pay has lagged behind other states, and we have a lower
level of college graduation rates,? Gassman said.

Gassman added Doyle has recently released an agenda to
change this pattern. The governor has released two previous agendas that included
recommendations for improving the workforce and economy, and Gassman said almost
all of these recommendations have already been implemented.

?Doyle?s new agenda
focuses on encouraging students and Wisconsin residents to stay and work in
Wisconsin to contribute the skills they have gained to the state.

According to Gassman, while the nation faces ?challenging
times,? Wisconsin is in a state of labor shortage. Despite a 2 percent lag in
Wisconsin?s economy, Gassman said baby boomers are aging so there are jobs to
fill within the state.

??I feel like in our
generation it?s harder to enact change than in previous generations,? said
second-year graduate student Kari Ehrhardt. ?But [Gassman] is a very positive
and inspiring role model for young women.?

Social work lecturer Severa Austin countered that the
current generation still has the capacity to create change.

?It can and will happen,? Austin said.

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