“Workforce development is going to be the number one priority moving forward, because if you improve the workforce of the state, we improve the economic vitality of the state, and we improve the ability to expand jobs and prosperity to the state,” Walker told the bankers group.
That statement alone is Economics 101: Most experts agree that having the right workforce in place is essential to the economic health of nations, states and communities.
However, Walker’s previews are revealing a far more comprehensive plan to confront Wisconsin’s demographic crunch through educating, retaining, recruiting, rehabilitating or otherwise cajoling every worker possible.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach that reflects the seriousness of the problem.
Like many states, Wisconsin faces a wave of Baby Boomer retirements – only more so. Also, birth rates have declined, as reflected in school enrollment figures, and out-migration of workers (the so-called “brain drain”) remains an issue. Wisconsin is also low on the list of states that attract immigrants, who often fill workforce gaps. Unless trends change within 10 years or so, there could be fewer working adults in Wisconsin than there are retirees.
See my column today for one thing that Walker can address. One of the reasons that Wisconsin struggles to attract workers is because it’s too dang expensive to live here. Bold reforms that truly make Wisconsin’s government more affordable would be a boon to the workforce.