State legislators held a hearing Tuesday to discuss legislation that would increase workforce development in Wisconsin by tying development initiatives to state businesses looking for skilled employees.
The Assembly Committee on Workforce Development and the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining and Revenue conducted the hearing, which included testimonies by the authors of the legislation.
The legislation would give about $15 million in potential grant money over two years to jobs training programs around the state. The jobs training programs would run through technical schools, such as Madison Area Technical College, and would train workers to fill specific employment openings in state companies.
Additionally, a company applying for a grant to fund employee training under the legislation can only be approved if it also agrees to match the grant funds using company money, according to Tim Lakin, the chief of staff for state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, who is one of the authors of the legislation.
Cowles and state Sen. Richard Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, designed the legislation, which is currently pending in both houses of the State Legislature, to bridge a skills gap, where employees do not have the skills to become effective employees, in Wisconsin, according to Lakin.
The proposal is being introduced as legislation instead of an initiative in Walker’s budget because Cowles and Gudex see the issue as an immediate state needs, according to Lakin.
“We should have been doing this six months ago,” Lakin said. “There’s such a demand out there for skilled workers that we need to get going now.”
Lakin said the legislation has bipartisan support and will likely pass both houses of the Legislature.