Skilled workers may be hard to come by in the state of Wisconsin over the next 20 years. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation was in La Crosse Tuesday to highlight its 20-year plan to combat the issue.
Western Technical College is one of 16 stops the Manufacturing Commerce Foundation is making in Wisconsin. Technical colleges play a big role in giving students the education needed to become skilled employees in manufacturing.
With the baby-boomer generation coming to retirement age, there could be a higher number of job openings in Wisconsin.
"Well this is an aging state. We expect about 800,000 additional people in this state over the next 30 years but 95 percent of those are going to be over the age of 65," Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation President, Jim Morgan said.
According to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation, skilled laborers are a dying breed.
"We've got some challenges coming down the road around talent attraction, around business competitiveness, that we've really got to start that conversation right now," Morgan said.
The WMC Foundation wants to establish a 20-year plan called Future Wisconsin.
"The things that were outlined here today are trying to get people to think more about manufacturing careers as viable options," Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said.
Schools like Western Technical College are big contributors to the plan.
"We're key players because we do a couple things. We work very closely with area manufacturers, we have an existing network, we provide a lot of education and training for the next generation of the workforce in manufacturing and we also represent this region," Rasch said.
Training the next generation may be tough. The WMC Foundation says keeping that age group in Wisconsin is not easy.
"Unless we do something to keep our young people here and figure out a way to attract more people here we're not going to have the people available for the jobs that we're going to have," Morgan said.
The president of Western said he was glad that the foundation stopped in La Crosse. It allowed for more of the manufacturers in our area to take part in the discussion.
The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation will be working with colleges and universities throughout the year.