Letter from Sen. Harsdorf: State Senate approves worker training initiatives
In bipartisan floor votes this week, the State Legislature moved forward on its fall agenda that prioritized a workforce development package. This latest effort to encourage job creation and economic development included two bills authored by State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) that seek to bolster Wisconsin’s apprenticeship programs.
“I am pleased that the State Legislature is continuing its focus on jobs and the economy with the approval of this package of bills seeking to build workers’ skills,” Harsdorf stated. “As I speak with job creators, employers, and small businesses throughout our region, addressing the skills gap and improving training programs has been a top priority.” Two proposals authored by Senator Harsdorf were included in the State Legislature’s workforce development package. The first measure seeks to provide additional funding for the Youth Apprenticeship program, which matches high school students with employers to provide on-the-job training and technical college-level instruction. The second proposes an incentive to apprentices, employers, or other sponsors participating in the Wisconsin Apprenticeship program. The incentive will seek to address the tuition costs of those that complete their apprenticeship up to 25% of tuition costs with a $1,000 maximum. “These apprenticeship programs have long proven to be successful in providing hands-on skills training in a work environment and have been model programs for other states,” continued Harsdorf. “The workforce development bills passed this week with bipartisan support seek to respond to advances in technology and the evolving needs of employers.” Other measures included in the workforce development package includes creating a scholarship program for high school students that excel in technical education classes and encouraging school districts to develop programs for students to obtain certificates in high-demand industries before graduating. In an effort to get skilled graduates into the job market, another proposal will allow technical college and university students to take state licensing exams before finishing their training, allowing them to receive their license upon completion of their coursework. All bills in the package were approved on bipartisan votes by both the State Senate and State Assembly and are now available for the Governor’s review.