Higher education “gets it.” Talent development and attraction are essential for Wisconsin’s future.
Economists believe that Wisconsin needs to have 62 percent of our working-age population with a degree or high quality certification. Today 42 percent have this level of attainment.
We get the problem: In 2012 “middle skill jobs” (more than high school, but less than BA) equaled 56 percent of Wisconsin jobs, but only 49 percent of the working age population had “middle skills.”
We get the solution: We need more. . . Contrary to popular mythology, jobs requiring at least a baccalaureate degree did not decline during the great recession and have exploded in the recovery. Today there are 8.1 million more jobs for Americans with a bachelor’s degree or above than existed when the recession began.
Since the last Future Wisconsin Summit: WAICU, UW, and WTCS – with the leadership of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) – have partnered in seven regional workshops on workforce-educational alignment. As is appropriate for education, we are listening and learning from employers.
Over the last 35 years, the three higher education sectors in the state of Wisconsin – the University of Wisconsin System (UW), the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU), have grown their enrollment.
The UW, WTCS, and WAICU are working cooperatively to increase attainment in Wisconsin.
Three – MAJOR – initiatives need to be expanded. First, employers need to know how to find these students as interns and graduates as employees. WAICU will launch a WAICUcareerconnect.org platform later this spring.
Second, the State of Wisconsin needs to increase and target student aid to those Wisconsin students who qualify and who otherwise would not attend or graduate. Governor Walker’s current state budget provides an equitable 5 percent increase in student aid for students at UW, WTCS, and WAICU.
Third, we need to attract the “best and the brightest” from out-of-state to attend our colleges and universities and to remain here and work after graduation.