All this week on WUWM, we've been trying to get to the heart of the so-called "skills gap" in Wisconsin - the divide between unemployed and underemployed workers and existing jobs in the region. It's a series we call Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.
The issue is one that people in business, policy, and education are taking seriously. In just this year alone, the Walker administration, the Public Policy Forum, and Milwaukee-based Manpower have each issued reports trying to quantify, analyze, and/or offer solutions for the gap.
Earlier this week, we convened a panel to establish what it's going to take to connect skilled workers with work, and to help transform lesser-skilled workers into workers that are a better fit for the jobs that are out there. The forum, which was recorded in front of a live audience at Milwaukee Area Technical College on Tuesday evening, included six panelists:
- Tim Sullivan is the former CEO of the Milwaukee-based manufacturer, Bucyrus International. He's currently the chair of the Governor's Council on Workforce Investment and authored what’s known as the Sullivan report, which assessed the skills gap in Wisconsin and offered policy solutions.
- Doctor Vicki Martin is Executive Vice President and Provost of Milwaukee Area Technical College. She helped develop MATC’s Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing Center, which led to new curriculum creation and partnerships with local and regional businesses and manufacturers.
- Ted Muccio has served for the past 12 years as President of Pereles Brothers, Incorporated, a plastic injection molding company based on Milwaukee's north side.
- Lois Quinn is a senior scientist with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute. Her department addresses workforce training, driver’s license, child care, and education needs of low-income and unemployed Wisconsin workers.
- Earl Buford is President and CEO of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG-STEP. His career includes 16 years of experience in workforce development, diversity initiatives, and program management.
- Rich Rovito is a business reporter in Milwaukee – he covered the manufacturing and labor beat for the Business Journal of Milwaukee for 12 years, and covered the skills gap extensively.