Guest commentary: Invest in Wisconsin’s workers - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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Guest commentary: Invest in Wisconsin’s workers

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Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:00 pm

The potential of Wisconsin’s human capital talents is enormous.

The Midwest work ethic and our ability to overcome adversity is a fundamental element of Wisconsin’s culture.  Wisconsin is well-positioned to lead the way in the global economic recovery because Wisconsinites are engaging in lifelong learning that emphasizes critical thinking, applied math, and locating information.

The key to the success of the resources and investments provided lies in the engagement of the talent and human capital that already exists in our great state.

THE HUMAN AGE is defined as, “a volatile and fast-changing new era marked by the rise of Talentism — the new capitalism that puts unprecedented value on talent as the driver of business success.” A Wisconsin strategy that invests in “Talentism,” a word my spellcheck has not flagged as a word (yet), while also addressing the well-established gap in soft skills and hard skills in our workforce, is imperative.

Wisconsin’s innovative initiatives and incentives to promote advanced talent and human capital can only be successful with the full participation of all stakeholders — workers, employers, students, parents, educational institutions and policymakers.  

As chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development, I have been involved with policymaking that will support our students, workers and employers as they adapt to the competitive global talent-based economy. We are equipping workers with the skills they need to find jobs in the modern workforce while making targeted investments in the Wisconsin Technical College System and traditional K-12 education.

A NEW initiative, Wisconsin Fast Forward, invests $15 million in worker training grants awarded by the Office of Skills Development at the Department of Workforce Development; it also creates a new Labor Market Information System, which will be available to the public and connect job seekers to employers. 

In addition to the $100 million in workforce investment provided in the 2013-2015 budget, the Legislature is currently considering several bipartisan proposals related to workforce investment. The proposed bills would:

• Pay for up to 25% of the tuition cost for an adult apprenticeship program, with maximum payments of $1,000 per participant. 

• Increase the youth apprenticeship grant program by $500,000 per year, adding an expected 555 students statewide per year to the program. 

• Provide incentive payments to school districts of up to $1,000 per student graduating with a bona-fide career and technical education (CTE) credential.

• Create a merit based scholarship of up to $2,250 per student pursuing post-secondary CTE.

• Revive a program that allows for a stipend and on the job training while receiving unemployment benefits.

• Create a new transitional jobs program which will serve the Beloit area.

• Provide funding for vocational rehabilitation services to allow an estimated 3,000 additional developmentally disabled individuals to be served over the next two years.

THE WORLD of work is rapidly evolving. The industrial age is over. The information age is passé.

A new era of challenges and opportunities beckons, and the State of Wisconsin is ready.

Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, represents the 31st Assembly District which includes eastern Rock County and western Walworth County.

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