Bill that could give workforce a lift approved by State Assembly - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Bill that could give workforce a lift approved by State Assembly


Eau Claire (WQOW)- Wisconsin lawmakers are hoping a new bill will give our economy a lift by beefing up the workforce. 

"We have as many as 35,000 jobs that are going unfilled and our future holds even more of that," points out State Representative Kathy Bernier.

Specifically, Bernier says technology and manufacturing jobs are available.

"Four-year degrees are somewhat a dime-a-dozen," she notes.  "We have too many college graduates working at Starbucks, McDonald's; and a lot of them are coming back to the technical colleges to re-tool for jobs that are available to them now."

Bernier is looking to bridge that gap.  She authored a bill passed by the State Assembly on Thursday that calls for $15 million to be set aside over a 2-year period for companies and technical schools to train new and current employees.  She says that way we can keep jobs in the state.

"Phillips Plastics is a classic example.  They can't get robotics technicians, engineers of all sorts and they have to go on a nationwide search to get employees to fill those positions," recalls Bernier.  "We should be filling those jobs."

CVTC could benefit because many students are knocking on the door for on-the-job training.

"We have people that want a better job or perhaps they've been displaced through layoffs," explains CVTC Vice President of Operations Tom Huffcutt.  "So the idea is to bridge that."

The bill would also give the Department of Workforce Development $5 million on one condition.  It would have to create a new computer database.

"That is going to be a statewide system that will match up current unemployed and underemployed individuals with their education and past experiences in the workforce with an employer who thinks I can train them as long as they are trainable," Bernier says.  "And this system will help an employer evaluate that."

This week, the State Assembly approved the bill on a 94 to 4 vote.  It now makes its way to the State Senate.

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