The Alliance hosted more than 25 CEOs for a roundtable discussion with state leaders yesterday on the critical topic of workforce and hiring. Waukesha County business leaders were joined by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary Missy Hughes, Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Joel Brennan and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Amy Pechacek. State leaders discussed Governor Evers’ recent announcement of $130 million in workforce solutions grants, including $100 million for a Workforce Innovation grant program, $20 million toward a Worker Advancement Initiative and $10 million for a Worker Connection program. The grants will be funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
The three secretaries highlighted that the Governor’s $130-million investment is designed to foster local collaboration and innovative solutions in solving local challenges. Secretary Hughes highlighted several examples – a region could address childcare challenges, transportation issues, apprenticeships or whatever the known top priority is in a specific area of the state to respond to the workforce impacts of COVID-19.
Business leaders from Waukesha County stressed the critical nature of the current hiring environment including the ways it is impacting and restricting growth. Representatives across several industries – manufacturing, health care, construction, transportation and hospitality – all reiterated the same challenges in finding and retaining employees. Companies shared the significantly increased number (and/or percentage) of job openings, in comparison to pre-pandemic figures; the wage growth that has taken place in the last few months and continues to climb; the large volume of no-show candidates for interviews or employment and the increased turnover.
The Alliance’s workforce development strategy has focused on helping employers attract, develop and retain employees, particularly in the face of mounting workforce challenges facing the county, the region and the state. Finding solutions to our members’ workforce challenges remains a top priority for the Alliance.
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