Home > New Bill Would Help Tech Schools, Businesses Tackle Skills Gap
New Bill Would Help Tech Schools, Businesses Tackle Skills Gap
By Maureen McCollum
Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 6:43pm
Some Wisconsin lawmakers support a bill that would provide grants to technical colleges that collaborate with employers to hire more workers.
The skills gap varies across the state. Employers in the welding, information technology, and health care industries say they have jobs available, but they don't have qualified workers to fill them. Plus, current workers have to be retrained to keep up with ever-changing technology.
Wisconsin's technical colleges often educate the workers in these industries, but over the last few years the system has faced budget cuts. Now, some lawmakers have proposed a "Workforce Growth Program." It would allow the Technical College System Board to grant $10 million to businesses and schools that partner to tackle immediate skills gap needs in their area.
Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) says the money could go towards equipment purchases, faculty hires, or training scholarships.
"Rather than saying, 'Well gee, next year the tech school is going to have this program so we can meet this need five years down the line,' employers come to us today and say, 'We need these people now'," says Doyle. "We can do something very quickly."
Some Republicans have expressed concerns about money going towards technical college facilities and grants having too much flexibility. Doyle says he'll be working with lawmakers on amendments to ease those concerns.
Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy says the grants are not intended to make up for budget cuts.