Jobs available despite record low unemployment: local leaders learn how to improve workforce

Jobs available despite record low unemployment: local leaders learn how to improve workforce

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - More than 80 percent of Western Technical College graduates stay within the La Crosse area. Despite a low unemployment rate, employers are still in need of workers. 

Today economic leaders from communities across Wisconsin came together for the Ideas Sharing Forum to learn how to strengthen their economies. Employers are becoming more proactive on how they go after potential hires, especially as technology and specific career paths become more diverse. 

"Every industry sector has a great need right now," said Josh Gamer, dean of the Integrated Technology Division at Western Technical College. 

Economist Scott Hodek said La Crosse has the perfect recipe for economic success.

"This area is pretty lucky," Hodek said. "What you have here is essentially a demographic gold mine." 

La Crosse has two universities and a technical college. Hodek said that gives employers a much greater opportunity to hire qualified talent. 

"We have a chance at keeping them," he said. "That's the important part. Other places it's full-on attraction." 

Having Western Technical College is a greater asset today because of the need for specialized trade workers. 

"I think what we are seeing is the recognition of how important two-year degrees and one-year degree programs are," Gamer said.

Using data compiled by state economy experts they can tell local business and economic leaders how to make the most of the workforce opportunities in the area. 

"One of the things we can do with that data is match up things like job openings to where job seekers are, maybe expand your marketing a little," Hodek said.

Western Technical College works directly with area businesses to make sure graduates land a job. 

"We have over 700 local businesses represented on our Western advisory panels," Gamer said. "Those are the committees that advise us on what programming we should offer and what it contains."

Having educated workforce leaders and business leaders who are working with local colleges helps employers fill their jobs and graduates get hired. 

Officials at Western said finding a job is not difficult for graduates. It's deciding where to apply. The department of workforce development has a website that connects employers to talent.

Workers looking for a job or a business leader looking to hire workers can visit for more information. 

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