Gov. Walker promotes job training program

Stats show only 11 percent have found a job

According to the Wisconsin Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, which is the lowest since the recession.

Gov. Scott Walker was at Empire Screen Printing on Wednesday morning in Onalaska to highlight his $60 million investment in the FoodShare Employment and Training Program.

That program unemployed people to get job training in specific fields while getting FoodShare benefits.

Shawn Mattson had been a full-time dad and an independent contractor in roofing for a few years, but needed to look for work.

“After the kids went to live with their mother, obviously I decided to look for full-time work,” said Mattson.

Mattson was having difficulty finding the right job. After a while, Mattson heard about the Foodshare Employment and Training Program, a program that would train workers for jobs at Empire Screen Printing.

“For the first three months, I was working for free and it was 20 hours a week,” said Mattson. “But I’m getting these food stamps, and insurance, and it’s an opportunity.”

Gov. Walker’s plan forces unemployed workers without children to be in a job or in a training program like Mattson, in order to receive FoodShare benefits.

Those who aren’t in either can now only receive up to three months of benefits.

“If we can get them enrolled in employment and training programs, we can find a job for anybody,” said Walker.

The latest statistics from the training program aren’t all positive. Out of more than 107,000 people referred to the program, only 30 percent are enrolled, with only 11 percent now employed. The numbers also show nearly 40 percent have now lost their benefits after the three months.

Walker said those figures don’t tell the whole story.

“I believe the vast majority of the others that are referenced in that larger number are people who just choose to work somewhere else,” said Walker.

For Mattson, the program has been a success.

“After three months, they liked me, they hired me on for third shift and I’m just as happy as I could be,” said Mattson. “If you show yourself, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hired on.”

Exceptions to the work requirements include people with disabilities and those with health concerns.