Guest Column by
Secretary Ray Allen
Department of Workforce Development
Wisconsin’s economy continues to stack success on top of success, providing family-supporting employment opportunities across the state. From Superior to Racine, Wisconsin workers are reaping the benefits that a great economy provides its citizens.
This success didn’t happen by accident; policies designed to attract and retain businesses who are ready to grow in our state, paired with innovative worker training programs that are connecting workers with the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century economy, are driving our economic surge. We understand that for Wisconsin’s economy to continue to grow, all citizens should have access to top-flight worker-training services, and that includes continued investment in our largest urban center, the City of Milwaukee and surrounding municipalities in Milwaukee County.
Training programs such as Youth Apprenticeship are having a profound effect on the talent level of our future workforce, providing them with the skills needed to move from high school to valuable post-secondary training or directly into a rewarding career. In Milwaukee County, participation in the Youth Apprenticeship program by minority students has increased by over 10 percent since the 2010-2011 school year, and valuable employer partners like Harley-Davidson are partnering with Milwaukee Public School to expose students to the family-supporting careers that Milwaukee’s vibrant manufacturing sector provides. Throughout Wisconsin, nearly 1,000 registered apprentices who self-identify as a minority are working in family-supporting jobs, earning a great paycheck while learning a trade and progressing toward journey worker status. Governor Walker’s flagship Wisconsin Fast Forward worker-training grant program has invested heavily in training programs in Milwaukee County with 38 grants being awarded that include at least one partner in Milwaukee County. The total amount of grant funds awarded to train Milwaukee area workers is nearly $4 million.
The result of these and other efforts are a black unemployment rate for Milwaukee County that has been cut by more than 14 percent, a Hispanic unemployment rate for Milwaukee County that has been cut by more than two-thirds under Governor Walker, and an overall unemployment rate for Milwaukee County that this year reached its lowest July level since 1999. Milwaukee County also had the lowest number of unemployed people on record in December 2017, while also experiencing the most people employed since November 1998. Rewarding career opportunities are available to those who want to work, and with upcoming mega-projects and numerous business expansions expected in the Southeast Wisconsin region, the Department of Workforce Development will continue to promote vital job services designed to connect talent with rewarding employment, no matter an individuals’ background, skill-set or level of education.
I encourage all job seekers to visit their local job center today.
You can find out more about job and training opportunities by visiting the Job Center of Wisconsin website at jobcenterofwisconsin.com.