Labor secretary talks future, jobs1. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman highlighted plans to create and grow jobs statewide during a meeting at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Wednesday.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman highlighted plans to create and grow jobs statewide during a meeting at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Wednesday.
“We want to help put Wisconsin back to work,” she told the assembled students and staff.
She touched on proposals Gov. Jim Doyle stressed in Tuesday’s State of the State Address. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, for example, could create 15,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing by 2025 by increasing energy efficiency and using more renewable energy, Gassman said. One of the goals is to increase the amount of renewable energy produced by the state to 25 percent of the total. Currently, five percent of energy produced in Wisconsin comes from renewable sources.
The Wisconsin Green to Gold Fund will provide a $100 million revolving loan fund for manufacturers to help in reducing energy costs and creating jobs. Dollars for the fund would come from streamlining existing state resources, according to Doyle.
The Wisconsin CORE Jobs Act would provide millions in tax credits for angel and venture capital investments and fund additional training for workers. As part of the act, $1.5 million would be distributed to technical colleges for advanced manufacturing skills training.
The aim of the proposals is to help “move our workers into our green economy and into the future,” Gassman said.
The seeds of a green economy are already being sown at area technical colleges. Renewable energy content has been integrated into existing class curriculum, said WITC President Bob Meyer.
“It’s all going green,” he said. There are also stand-alone courses that show promise for the future. On the New Richmond campus, a class is experimenting with ways to process sunflower seeds and canola seeds to produce oil that could be used as biodiesel fuel.
“It’s exciting stuff,” Meyer said.
Students aren’t the only ones involved. A recent DWD grant was utilized to train timber industry workers in northwest Wisconsin in methods of recovering cellulose matter from trees and turning that into an energy source, Gassman noted.
As fossil fuels become more scarce and prices rise, Meyer said, consumers are going to need such options. And the emerging field promises to bring with it thousands of jobs, according to Gassman and Meyer.