WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) - Job training and employment initiatives were highlighted by Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson in Wausau Thursday. Newson visited the busy Wausau Job Center along with Area Director Tom Younger and State Representative Mandy Wright.
Newson emphasized the 100 million in state budget funds proposed by Governor Scott Walker towards various department programs and the new Fast Forward program’s job training grants.
He says the Department offers many programs to help employers put more people to work. “Things such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credits for employers to be able to apply for to hire individuals that have significant barriers to employment. We have the Workforce Investment Act Program that helps provide training dollars and incentives for employers to utilize. We have our Jobs in Wisconsin website for employers.”
DWD has made several improvements, but Newson says he wants even more improvements in the use of training dollars. “We need to do a better job and continue to customize our training dollars to be able to meet the specific employer needs in terms of training, technical training, as well as what they call soft skills. Critical thinking, the ability to get along with people, and the ability to report to work everyday on time.”
Newson says the Department of Workforce Development is planning to improve technology to get people back to work sooner and also save employers on their Unemployment Insurance taxes. “Our goal is over the next two years is to decrease the duration of Unemployment Insurance for individual claimants to reemployment services through our technology and our investment in worker training, as well as building a labor market information system using the technology to do a better job of connecting them to employers. If we can do this and do it right, we can go to the bottom line of UI taxes in the State of Wisconsin.”
The Secretary says shortening the time someone needs Unemployment is good for the worker and saves millions of dollars for the state and the employers. “If we can decrease one week on UI for claimants, average one week duration, we can save anywhere between 30 and 50 million dollars to the bottom line of the trust fund. That’s tax dollars that come out of employers’ pockets to pay into UI and to the solvency of the fund, so that’s a significant investment for employers to be able to do other things with. That’s going to be our goal.”
Newson says the programs are needed to help better prepare available workers with the skills demanded by employers today.