Was There a Skills Gap In the Manufacturing Boom?

Oct 29, 2012

Our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series this week is exploring the realities and myths of the "skills gap," the apparent mismatch between unemployed workers and existing jobs.

Historian John Gurda says in Milwaukee's industrial boom years, new employees got up to speed almost entirely by on-the-job training.
Credit Wisconsin Historical Society

This gap is playing out as the country continues to slowly emerge from the Great Recession. But what was it like during times of rapid job growth, like the boom in the manufacturing industry in Milwaukee?

For some answers to that historical perspective, we turn to historian John Gurda, author of numerous books on Milwaukee history, including The Making of Milwaukee and Cream City Chronicles. He met up with WUWM's Ann-Elise Henzl in the Menomonee Valley, and talked about how workers decades ago learned their trade.