By Jeff Zriny, President
One of the determining elements in the Collaborative Consulting’s decision to choose Marathon County over Oklahoma City and other locations was our collaborative culture and the fact that we get things done. This collaborative culture is at work again to address a worker shortage in manufacturing. This current environment has been labeled the “Workforce Paradox”:
Did you know that statewide we have the following to address the problem?
There is very little power in resources that work independently. However, a collaborative effort is underway locally to address this issue. The Wausau Region Chamber, McDEVCO, local school districts, and Northcentral Technical College have come together to develop career paths for the growing number of advanced manufacturing job openings created by growth and baby boomer retirements. The recent Heavy Metal Bus Tour as a part of the Gold Collar Career Program, took high school students to visit Marathon County manufacturers to create a greater awareness of the career paths available in advanced manufacturing. The Gold Collar Careers program was developed to promote manufacturing careers in high schools. Only 30% of Wisconsin jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Therefore, many recent college graduates are leaving the area, are under employed, or unemployed. Many of them accumulated debt for their degrees.
What excites me is the collaboration between education institutions and businesses. The ability to identify the issues and develop a course of action is what we do well. The power of motivated high school career counselors working with technical colleges and manufactures will make the difference. We have set a course of action to begin addressing the problem and a consistent message which will make a difference over time.
The vision for these advanced manufacturing careers can be simply summarized as:
I must confess a year ago, I did not have much of an appreciation for this unique problem and opportunity. Today I understand the importance of being proactive in matching skilled workers to our regional businesses. We have an opportunity to retrain displaced workers and keep our high school graduates in the area to enjoy everything Marathon County has to offer.