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Business leaders hope for more job-training money in new state budget


MADISON (WSAU)   Business leaders expect Governor Scott Walker to propose state funds to train workers for thousands of open jobs. The state currently gets federal job-training funds in a host of programs that often duplicate each other. But the state has never devoted its own tax money to job training – and Competitive Wisconsin proposes $100-million to train workers for an estimated 35,000 jobs that are going unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants.

The Republican Walker has promised to address the “skills gap” in his budget proposal next month – but he’s given no details. Yesterday, Competitive Wisconsin held a conference on the subject in Milwaukee. The group’s director, Bill McCoshen, said state leaders are recognizing that new approaches are needed. And he sees a consensus toward creating a so-called “talent council” – a body that would coordinate training programs, and connect them with employers’ present-and-future needs.

McCoshen, a former state Commerce secretary under Tommy Thompson, also says the state should consolidate its workforce and economic development agencies, so all related programs are under one roof. He says Minnesota does the same thing, and it’s doing a great job.

State Senate Finance co-chair Alberta Darling said she expects Walker to propose funds to close the skills gap – but she could not predict how much. Darling also school curricula should be revamped. She said Wisconsin’s universities and tech schools are excellent but quote, “They are not really hitting the mark.”