Does state have a worker “skills gap”?

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Greg Peck
June 7, 2013

The timing was ironic. As The Gazette was finalizing last Sunday’s lead story on a new worker training program designed to solve what businesses say is a “skills gap,” UW-Madison unveiled a study that suggests no gap exists.

Those involved in creating and implementing the Work Today pilot program include the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, which teamed up with the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, Community Action and others. Instead of educating people and then sending them out to find jobs, it directly involves employers willing to invest in training workers to fill specific job openings. Each employer will pay between $2,500 and $7,500 annually.

But what about that UW-Madison study? A team of graduate students at UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs found no evidence of an existing or impending general skills gap. Robert Haveman, professor emeritus of public affairs and economics who oversaw the analysis, called it “a very good study” presenting “strong evidence” of no such gap.

So what’s the truth? Does or doesn’t Wisconsin’s workforce have a skills gap? We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Sunday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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