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All this week, WUWM has been exploring the skills gap, in our series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted.

Our project included a public forum on the downtown campus of MATC. Experts from different perspectives offered solutions for spanning the disconnect between people looking for work, and the jobs available.

We conclude our Project Milwaukee series Friday on the skills gap. One solution some business people have suggested is immigration reform. For instance, a company owner told WUWM’s LaToya Dennis that he would have an easier time filling jobs, if the U.S. would grant permanent residency to skilled immigrants, including the students educated here. Milwaukee Attorney Jose Oliviera told LaToya that there is no fast or simple way for immigrant workers to remain here, even if employers need them.

Call it a skills gap – or an employment gap – or even a training gap. The reality is there are thousands of unemployed Milwaukeeans, many of them in the central city. For whatever reason, they’re not connecting with the existing unfilled jobs available.

Corydalus, Flickr

This week's Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series has been looking at the so-called skills gap in Wisconsin - the divide between unemployed and underemployed workers and the jobs that exist but go unfilled.

Nowhere in Wisconsin is the employment issue greater than in Milwaukee's Central City, where the number of employed residents dropped by half between 1970 and 2000, and where unemployment rates currently dwarf those found in the surrounding areas. It's an issue that UW-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development has tracked closely.

Erin Toner

As we’ve been reporting this week, Wisconsin employers say they have plenty of decent-paying jobs open, but cannot find qualified workers. And the skills gap or shortage is expected to grow, as experienced baby-boomers retire. WUWM’s Erin Toner has Thursday’s installment of our series, Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted. She observed programs successfully pumping skilled job applicants into the pipeline. Yet she learned, that what’s working – is also what’s missing.

Businesses in the Milwaukee area say there are not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.

We heard about that frustration Tuesday when WUWM’s LaToya Dennis spoke with local managers. Today, in our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series, we learn how people seeking jobs are striving to acquire the skills needed.

As we heard in our last segment, the skills gap - as it affects workers in the Milwaukee area - is about both highly skilled workers and people with lesser skills. And while some employers are looking for workers with very specialized experience, nearly all employers say they need workers with so-called "soft skills" - a good and reliable work ethic, ability to learn and adapt to a job, and good communication skill. But even those skills are lacking in some workers. And so a local foundation - generally known more for its work in aging and childhood issues - has added support for workforce development in the inner city to its priorities.

The HIRE Center Helps Workers Retrain

Oct 31, 2012

All this week on Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted, we’re exploring the so-called skills gap and ways area business, governments, and workers are addressing it. Today on Lake Effect, we’re focusing on the workers themselves and will begin with a roundtable conversation with people at the HIRE Center, which is located inside Milwaukee Enterprise Center-South at 8th and National.

It appears a growing number of Wisconsin residents believe the state is headed in the right direction, economically.

UWM’s Center for Urban Initiatives and Research has released its quarterly Wisconsin Economic Scorecard. It asked 472 residents how they feel about the state economy and their personal finances.

Foundry Casts Manufacturing In a Different Light

Oct 30, 2012
Waukesha Foundry

As our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series on the skills gap has progressed, we’ve heard from analysts about the importance of developing alliances between industry and education. One such alliance is already in place between a local company and university.

BCG data

Earlier on today's show, we heard Melanie Holmes, Vice President at Manpower Group, give details and analysis of that company's annual Talent Shortage Survey, in which almost half of the employers interviewed said they are experiencing difficulty in hiring for mission-critical positions.

Barnshaws, Flickr

All this week, we're examining the so-called "skills gap" - the apparent mismatch between employers with jobs to fill, and the pool of unemployed or underemployed workers that exists in southeastern Wisconsin - and around the country.

Businesses in Wisconsin have been adapting to the fact they cannot always find the qualified employees they need. The skills gap has been affecting industries from manufacturing to health care. In today’s installment of our series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis visited several companies to learn about the impact the skills shortage is having on them.

All this week, we’re talking about what many have described as the “skills gap” that’s opened up in this country – the disconnect between employers who have job open, many in highly skilled manufacturing trades, and the millions of unemployed or underemployed people in this country.

The perceived skills gap has been everywhere, it seems. The State of Wisconsin set out to study it and find solutions for connecting unemployed workers with existing jobs.

The Urban Economic Development Association will convene its annual summit to discuss it next week. And newspapers and magazines have devoted hundreds of column inches to exploring why this supposed gap has opened up.

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