Wisconsin DWD holds roundtable discussion on challenges faced by employers

Wisconsin DWD holds roundtable discussion regarding challenges faced by employers
Wisconsin DWD holds roundtable discussion regarding challenges faced by employers
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 8:19 PM CDT
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - A series of roundtable discussions is being held across Wisconsin by the state’s Department of Workforce Development as employers sound off on their struggles with recruiting employees, as well as retention.

On Monday, that discussion was held at Hinterland Brewery in Ashwaubenon.

Area business owners, community leaders, entrepreneurs and local tech colleges were among those invited to hear some of the challenges they face.

RELATED: Survey reveals 86% of area businesses are struggling to hire

“We’re here today to learn, to connect, to prioritize how we move forward together, what strategies we can each elevate,” said State Representative Kristina Shelton (D-Green Bay). “When we work together, we are stronger and that’s when the best solutions will rise to the top.”

As Action 2 News reported last week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has announced a $130 million workforce investment, aimed at helping businesses and job seekers.

There are three different grant opportunities to choose from, as well as services to get people back on their feet.

“We certainly know that businesses are ramping up, opening up, and are really looking to fill vacancies, and so we are working with those local employers to offer training, and to offer access to the talent pools that we currently have available at the Department of Workforce Development,” said Secretary Amy Pechacek of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Many businesses are still facing worker shortages, and Hinterland Brewery says it feels the impact in certain areas.

RELATED: As employers struggle to fill jobs, teens come to the rescue

“Being in this sports tourist area in particular, made COVID even more challenging without football games,” said Michelle Tressler, a co-owner of Hinterland Brewery.

Tressler says their focus right now is to increase wages, train employees and improve employee retention.

Following Evers’ investment announcement, the Nick Novak, the president of communications and marketing for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (W.M.C.), said that “the fragmented plan does not have a lot of oversight and we’re worried that it will not actually result in solving our workforce challenges here in the state.” The W.M.C. is the largest business association in Wisconsin.

Instead, the W.M.C. proposed taking the following actions in a news release issued following Evers’ announcement:

· End the $300 federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits: A new Morning Consult poll revealed that nearly two million people would reenter the workforce nationwide if the expanded unemployment benefits were eliminated.

· Fully fund a statewide talent attraction campaign: The State Legislature appropriated $3 million over the recently signed two-year budget for a talent attraction campaign. Gov. Evers should greatly expand this funding through a coordinated statewide effort to bring people into Wisconsin.

· Invest targeted funds in STEM education and technical training for Wisconsin’s youth: Wisconsin needs to better prepare students for the jobs available in the state by ensuring they have the proper skills to pursue these careers – not just a four-year college degree. This means the state must have targeted funding for additional STEM courses, technical training and an expansion of programs like dual-enrollment.

As previously reported by Action 2 News, Wisconsin GOP lawmakers and business leaders have called for an end to extra unemployment benefits, saying it is affecting the ability of businesses to hire employees.

The Wisconsin Legislature voted to end the extra $300-a-week federal bonus last month. The benefit is currently scheduled to end on September 6, and was approved to help the unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, soon afterwards Evers vetoed the bill that eliminated the bonus.

RELATED: UPFRONT: Evers discusses likely veto of legislation regarding unemployment benefit, COVID-19 vaccination goal

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) issued this statement after Evers vetoed the bill:

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