Governor Walker discusses skills gap in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Governor Scott Walker met with manufacturing companies at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee Saturday, January 18th to discuss filling skilled worker positions.

Gov. Walker says there are companies who are willing to expand, but need to change their culture in order to do so.

"Business owners around the state repeatedly tell me the skills gap is a critical problem facing the state and their ability to fill jobs," said Gov. Walker. "Many employers require more education than a high school degree, but less than a college degree, and connecting workers with the necessary training sets them up for success in a highly skilled career."

The Governor visited the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin Advanced Manufacturing Conference where a panel expressed the difficulty in finding the next generation of skilled workers.

"More and more people have this misguided idea of what manufacturing jobs are today. They're not dirty. They're high tech. They're interesting," said State Representative Robin Vos.

Some manufacturing company heads across Wisconsin believe in order to see growth, filling positions has to start as early as high school -- even offering an alternative education to students who will get paid, on-the-job training while earning their diploma.

"This serves that market of those high school kids who were falling through the crack because not everybody wants to go to college. Are these kids capable? Are they bright? Absolutely," said David Mitchell, CEO of Monarch Corp.

Leaders say to realize this potential, more private-public partnerships need to be established and parents need to do their part to encourage their children to pursue a career in trades.

"We need to change the attitude. We should be just as proud of our sons and daughters that are high school welders and fabricators and machinists as we are of those who are doctors and lawyers," said Gov. Walker.

Gov. Walker said the demand for skilled manufacturing jobs is so overwhelming that during any given week, there are as many as 50,000 open jobs.