Bridging the skills gap

May 13, 2013
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

By Raina J. Johnson
Special to the Milwaukee Times

Launched in February 2013, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch began a “Real Jobs with Rebecca” tour in our state.

“The real jobs tour was started because we were looking for a way to illustrate the skills gap to all of Wisconsin. The skills gap is that space in between people who need jobs and employers that need employees.
“We have 200,000 folks who are unemployed in Wisconsin and yet, everyday, on our completely free Department of Workforce Development website called,, we have between 25,000 and 45,000 open jobs.
“ People wonder why don’t your unemployed folks in Wisconsin simply go over and take all your open jobs in Wisconsin. The answer, of course, is those folks that are unemployed don’t necessarily have the skills employers are looking for. This void in between is called the skills gap. We’re trying to put a bridge over it,” Kleefisch said.
A stop she took this week brought her to Greendale, WI to a skilled-nursing facility. Golden Living Center-Heritage Square was the location with job openings. The Lt. Governor came to this 5-star skilled nursing facility to highlight the care given to patients throughout the state. During the visit, she shadowed a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.) and visited with patients and staff.

The position of C.N.A. is referred to as a middle-skill job; a job that most often requires a high school diploma and some extra technical training but less than a bachelor’s degree. “We have an urgent need for people to choose these careers. In the next 10 years, 70 percent of jobs are going to be those middle-skilled jobs,” she said.
The Real Jobs with Rebecca Tour fits into Governor Walker’s plan to created 250,000 jobs “because if we are to urge our employers to create jobs we need to make sure we have the employees to take the jobs once they are created. As I said, we have 45,000 posted on our DWD website…we need to make sure our potential employees have the skills that prepare them to take those jobs immediately when they open,” Kleefisch added.
Wisconsin has 22 comprehensive Job Centers, located in communities around Wisconsin, to provide customers with access to a variety of resources designed to connect them with hiring employers.


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