Economy and Business
Fri July 20, 2012
Business Forum Directs Students Towards Growing Industries
Higher education and business leaders are putting their heads together to find better ways to fill available jobs in industries where prospective workers don't always have the necessary skills.
One of the questions posed at a Madison-area business forum was “How to make manufacturing exciting?” and let students and their parents know about good job opportunities. These jobs may be overlooked by those focused on getting a four year college degree right out of high school. Susan LaBelle is with Advance Now Initiative. She says lifelong learning is important because people change jobs more often now—and jobs change. “There are multiple roads to success. A four year degree is absolutely worthwhile and you can be successful with a two year degree It can be a stepping stone into a four year degree.”
Manufacturing is a mainstay in Wisconsin. But there aren't always enough qualified workers. Oftentimes it’s an issue of basic skills, like math. Bettsey Barhorst is president of Madison College. “The national figures say that students are not ready, particularly in math — even with high school diplomas — they are not ready for college algebra. So if [we] test them early (while they're still in high school), they have time to get ready and we have taken care of ‘senioritis.’”
Manufacturing is not the only industry where jobs often go wanting. Workforce development officials in south-central Wisconsin say utilities need workers, and there are also positions in what have been identified as “growth industries” including agricultural food systems and health care.