The Future Wisconsin Project Steering Committee at the 2018 Future Wisconsin Summit.
Research & Data to Drive Future Wisconsin Project By Wade Goodsell WMC Foundation Executive Director
ata-driven and solutions-oriented became the drumbeat for the Future Wisconsin Project in
2018. Over the past half-decade, educators, policymakers and business leaders have understood and articulated the ‘workforce issue.’ Simply stated, it is a confluence of the skills gap and body gap. Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin has an aging population, aging workforce, below replacement level birth rate and a generation in the workforce that grew up without shop class or ‘industrial arts’ being offered in middle and high schools. The problem is understood and widely felt by employers nationally. As the Future Wisconsin Project charted our next five-year chapter in 2018, it was time to quit talking about the problem and time to begin solving it. Our strategy? Focus on a data-driven and solutions-oriented approach.
34 Winter 2019
Hire the best. Gather the brightest. The Future Wisconsin Project Steering Committee was formed with 25 different organizations, representing banking, technology, manufacturing, food processing, insurance, telecommunications, energy, accounting, consulting, government and academia. It is a big tent approach to gauge Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness through a five-, 10- and 20-year lens. The leader-
wisconsinbusinessvoice.org | Future Wisconsin Project
ship of the project engaged Ted Abernathy of Economic Leadership based in Raleigh, North Carolina to conduct the initial Wisconsin Workforce Competitiveness Evaluation. Throughout the fall, Ted and his team interviewed 30 key stakeholders representing strategic geographic and industry diversity, while also surveying 50 thought leaders from across Wisconsin to better understand our state’s education, workforce and economic competitiveness. Ted’s research revealed the key strengths and weaknesses of Wisconsin’s workforce and workforce development system. Counter to our Wisconsin tendency towards humility, let’s first review the strengths highlighted by Ted’s findings:
Strengths • •
Strong work ethic High education levels