Petryk column: State budget investing in our Wisconsin workforce

Petryk column: State budget investing in our Wisconsin workforce Main Photo

4 Jun 2019

By Rep. Warren Petryk on May 30, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Previously, I've written that as Chairman of the Assembly Workforce Development Committee, we need to do everything we can to help our local businesses find the skilled talent they need to keep Wisconsin's economy moving forward. To accomplish this we must continue to expand our talent pipeline. This includes supporting successful programs like Youth Apprenticeship, helping people with disabilities find jobs, and supporting our world-class technical colleges.

As the legislature debates the state's budget for the next two years, I have been working to make sure that workforce development remains a top priority. Unfortunately, the governor's proposed budget did not provide the needed resources to address this issue, and in fact, even introduced proposals that would make it easier for people to stay on the workforce sidelines while collecting assistance. This was unacceptable, which is why I worked with Rep. Mike Rohrkaste and members on the budget-writing committee last week to provide more resources for workforce solutions that help people get the skills they need to obtain family-sustaining careers.

The proposals added to the budget to increase workforce development in the budget include:

• Doubling the amount of money proposed by the governor for Wisconsin's Youth Apprenticeship Program. Since 2011, the program has grown steadily to meet employer demands, with 4,229 students and 3,027 employers participating in 2018.

• Provided the Wisconsin Technical College System with $25 million in new monies, a substantial increase over the amount proposed by the governor.

• Nearly doubling our commitment to the Career and Technical Education Incentive grant program. This program funds students that graduate from school by helping them obtain a high demand industry-recognized certification.

• Provided funding so every minimum and medium security correctional facility in the state will have an on-site job center, making sure individuals are connected to the state's jobs board before they are released.

• Investing in young adults with disabilities by providing support to the Project SEARCH program. This program immerses students with disabilities in a work environment to help them gain employment upon graduation.

• Modified the Wisconsin Fast Forward program to require a grant that would promote the attraction and retention of personal care workers.

• Doubled the amount of money for the technical education equipment grants for schools. This money helps schools purchase and install new equipment for advanced manufacturing careers.

During the budget, and throughout the rest of the Legislative session, I look forward to continuing our great successes of the past in efforts to strongly support our workforce pipeline. We must ensure that people have the resources and incentives they need to get skilled up for the many careers that are available. When they are, they are much more likely to reach their full potential and lead a more happy, productive, and successful life.

Original story.