Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted

Uncovering the Truth Behind Wisconsin's Skills Gap

Ask local employers about the biggest challenge they face, and quite a few will cite the “skills gap.” Businesses say not enough local workers are prepared to fill skilled positions, a problem that only will worsen as Baby Boomers retire. From workers’ perspective, some jobs are not attractive, because they present no career track.

WUWM explored the disconnect between employers and workers in the series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted. WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers addressed the skills gap, including its impact on the community and what leaders are doing to tackle the problem.

Expert panelists and audience members weighed in at a community forum in October of 2012 at MATC's downtown campus. The event focused on what role government, educators and other groups have in connecting workers and jobs.

The perceived skills gap has been everywhere, it seems. The State of Wisconsin set out to study it and find solutions for connecting unemployed workers with existing jobs.

The Urban Economic Development Association will convene its annual summit to discuss it next week. And newspapers and magazines have devoted hundreds of column inches to exploring why this supposed gap has opened up.

Wisconsin Historical Society

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.

While Wisconsin continues shaking off the recession, thousands of workers still don’t have jobs. Yet businesses, particularly manufacturers, report having a difficult time filling certain positions. Several people actively addressing the problem defined it from their perspective.

Historic Photo Collection / Milwaukee Public Library

Many people are looking for work, while at the same time some employers say they can’t find skilled applicants to fill jobs. We’re reporting on the “skills gap” this week in our series, Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.

The disconnect between jobs and workers is a relatively new phenomenon in Milwaukee. During the city’s manufacturing heyday, from the late 1800s until the 1970s, there were thousands of jobs in the Menomonee Valley alone – and a steady stream of workers to fill them.

Series Preview

Oct 26, 2012

There’s been increasing talk lately about the “skills gap” – the phenomenon of employers unable to find skilled workers. WUWM examines the issue in the series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.

The stories will air all next week on Morning Edition, Lake Effect and All Things Considered. WUWM also will host a community forum at MATC on Tuesday Oct. 30. We’ll ask expert panelists and audience members to talk about the role government, educators and other groups have, in connecting workers and jobs.