WTCS President Dan Clancy’s statement on Wisconsin Jobs Initiative

The jobs proposal Rep. Cory Mason and Sen. Chris Larson are introducing and the public discussion it inspires could not have come at a better time. Every day, the media reports new stories on the efforts of Wisconsin industries to compete and grow.

More often than not, skill acquisition is one of the biggest challenges facing workers and employers in today’s high-tech and fast-changing economy. Addressing the workforce skills gap is one of the objectives of Gov. Walker’s “Back to Work Wisconsin” special legislative session.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges are designing new programs and expanding online and alternative educational opportunities. We are preparing our state’s workforce for the very industries that economic experts believe will ensure America’s future prosperity: biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and health care. Wisconsin’s technical colleges are also working with employers in Wisconsin’s core industries of agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, construction, and natural resources to find innovative ways of developing and upgrading workforce skills.

Unfortunately, technical colleges face barriers to ensuring sufficient capacity and maintaining a strong workforce pipeline. New resources are needed if technical colleges are to fully meet the challenges of record enrollments, more complex and diverse student populations, and a constantly evolving technical sophistication within Wisconsin’s industries and the global economy.

These are difficult financial times for the state as well as for its citizens. The Legislature will have to choose from among many worthy and compelling priorities. Rep. Mason and Sen. Larson have been leaders in efforts to prioritize new pathways to prosperity through job creation and retention, and they have consistently advocated that effective jobs legislation must involve Wisconsin’s technical colleges. We agree there is no better place to develop human potential into family-supporting employment and economic success.

The Wisconsin Jobs Initiative would enable Wisconsin’s technical colleges to educate more highly skilled workers in industries that will create and sustain jobs in Wisconsin. This will help move thousands of individuals out of poverty and along an educational path to career success. The Wisconsin Technical College System is eager to work with the Legislature and the governor to expand technical college capacity, address the skill needs, and improve the economic potential of workers, employers, and the state as a whole.

Dan Clancy is president of the Wisconsin Technical College System.

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