All this week, WUWM has been reporting on the skills gap – the challenge employers say they face in finding skilled workers. We’ve also visited programs that provide training. They range from teaching technical skills, down to basic job readiness habits. As our series, Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted concludes, WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson sought opinions on the role government should play in addressing skills shortages.
We conclude our Project Milwaukee series Friday on the skills gap. One solution some business people have suggested is immigration reform. For instance, a company owner told WUWM’s LaToya Dennis that he would have an easier time filling jobs, if the U.S. would grant permanent residency to skilled immigrants, including the students educated here. Milwaukee Attorney Jose Oliviera told LaToya that there is no fast or simple way for immigrant workers to remain here, even if employers need them.
Call it a skills gap – or an employment gap – or even a training gap. The reality is there are thousands of unemployed Milwaukeeans, many of them in the central city. For whatever reason, they’re not connecting with the existing unfilled jobs available.
This week's Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series has been looking at the so-called skills gap in Wisconsin - the divide between unemployed and underemployed workers and the jobs that exist but go unfilled.
Nowhere in Wisconsin is the employment issue greater than in Milwaukee's Central City, where the number of employed residents dropped by half between 1970 and 2000, and where unemployment rates currently dwarf those found in the surrounding areas. It's an issue that UW-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development has tracked closely.
As we’ve been reporting this week, Wisconsin employers say they have plenty of decent-paying jobs open, but cannot find qualified workers. And the skills gap or shortage is expected to grow, as experienced baby-boomers retire. WUWM’s Erin Toner has Thursday’s installment of our series, Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted. She observed programs successfully pumping skilled job applicants into the pipeline. Yet she learned, that what’s working – is also what’s missing.
Businesses in the Milwaukee area say there are not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
We heard about that frustration Tuesday when WUWM’s LaToya Dennis spoke with local managers. Today, in our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series, we learn how people seeking jobs are striving to acquire the skills needed.
The challenges and efforts to bridge the employment gap among workers generally are at the lower end of the skills spectrum. But as we've heard during our series this week, employers are reporting the greatest degree of challenge in filling jobs requiring highly specialized skills. Jobs requiring engineering, chemistry, biology, or computer science skills often can't be filled with on-the-job or certificate level training.
As we heard in our last segment, the skills gap - as it affects workers in the Milwaukee area - is about both highly skilled workers and people with lesser skills. And while some employers are looking for workers with very specialized experience, nearly all employers say they need workers with so-called "soft skills" - a good and reliable work ethic, ability to learn and adapt to a job, and good communication skill. But even those skills are lacking in some workers. And so a local foundation - generally known more for its work in aging and childhood issues - has added support for workforce development in the inner city to its priorities.