A report four years in the making was presented at a manufacturing conference in Green Bay today. The report addresses the so-called "skills gap," where jobs go unfilled because there aren't enough qualified applicants.
Unemployment is high, yet employers in Wisconsin and throughout the country say they have jobs. Tim Sullivan is a special consultant to Governor Scott Walker on workforce issues. He co-authored the report.
Sullivan was CEO of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus before he sold it to Caterpillar. During his time with the company Sullivan says he had to move jobs to Texas. "It was a painful decision to send those 200 welding jobs to Texas," he says. "Those are Wisconsin jobs, they should be good high paying Wisconsin jobs. But the people weren't there and we can only train so many."
Sullivan's report says Wisconsin public education system needs revamping. He says not enough attention is paid to career, technical education.
"We don't want to call it 'shop' or 'industrial arts' because it's well beyond that these days," he says. "But 280 million dollars out of an 11 and a half billion dollar budget, that's woefully inadequate."
Once students graduate with the appropriate skills, Sullivan says the way jobs statistics are reported needs to be updated. The current system releases data that are months old.
"We're talking about really making a fairly modest investment in new software that'll not only on a real time daily basis, hourly basis, tell us who is unemployed who's trying to employ and quite frankly join employers with job seekers," he says.
The report also addresses Wisconsin's aging workforce that will create factory job vacancies. At the same time teachers say high school students don't want to go into manufacturing.