Local leaders meet to discuss workforce issues facing area communities

By Brian Will, WSAW

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- The status of the workforce in the badger state is concerning. A new report shows vacancies in jobs particularly in health care jumped to 19-percent just last year. A roundtable discussion tackled the issue in Stevens Point on Tuesday.

The discussion took place at Mid-State Technical College where more than 40 area leaders from different businesses met with the Wisconsin Secretary-Designee of Workforce Development Caleb Frostman and Democratic Representative for the 71st District Katrina Shankland.

The main discussion centered on how to attract and retain a talented workforce in the area to replace an aging workforce that is sometimes being referred to as a silver tsunami. The Secretary-Designee says there is a real since of urgency to fill the gap that is being presented by the now-retiring workforce. The Secretary-Designee and Representative Shankland wanted to hear from others about how they could help and took away some ideas.

"Continuing to revise our programming at the Department of Workforce Development whether that is going to cast a wider net for employers or help make that net stronger and evaluating our training programs. One of the things we have been focusing on a lot is helping folks re-enter the workforce from corrections," explained Secretary-Designee Caleb Frostman of the state Department of Workforce Development.

"Authoring legislation to create new programs and resources. That was one of the ideas that we exchanged today. What would work to help our employer and employees in central Wisconsin. I think of one of the big things is vibrancy of the community," said Democratic Representative Katrina Shankland of the 71st Assembly District.

Attendees included major local employers, workforce development leaders and representatives from area schools.

Secretary-Designee Frostman says he is focused on supporting educational institutions which he says will strengthen the workforce pipeline.

The big takeaway from this meeting they said is getting people to want to move here -- to these different communities across the state to work and live.

The Secretary-Designee will continue to hear about solving workforce issues at different roundtable discussions across the state.