Walker: Law will get veterans back to work fasterVeterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing jobless rates ranging between 13 and 15 percent, according to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
By: By Liam Marlaire, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Superior Telegram
Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing jobless rates ranging between 13 and 15 percent, according to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
Kleefisch was with Gov. Scott Walker on Monday for the signing of a legislative bill that allows military training, education and experience to qualify for certain professional credentials. The bill is part of the administration's Year of the Veteran program announced last week that includes legislation, job fairs and other initiatives.
"The idea that there would be any man or woman who served our country and then comes home to Wisconsin and is unable to find work is just unacceptable," Walker said during an appearance at the VFW Post 305, 1300 Starr Ave.
State Sen. Terry Moulton, R-town of Seymour, an author of the measure, said the onus will be on applicants to show they've acquired the necessary skills to be licensed in a given area.
"It will allow veterans the opportunity to get in the workforce quicker," he said.
When contacted by email State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout agreed.
"I supported the bill," the Alma Democrat said. "The bill makes it easier for veterans to become certified in a variety of occupations."
Walker cited medics and motor carriers as specific examples of positions in which veterans may already have the skills needed to be licensed in those fields. He referred to both Marten Transport of Mondovi and Schneider National in Green Bay.
"They have a tremendous, tremendous need for truck drivers," Walker said. "You've got people who have been driving large-scale equipment in convoys driving through mine fields and things of that nature.
"They're probably more than equipped to drive a semi-trailer."
Walker said the bill will speed up the job-seeking process for veterans and help in "trying to make the case for employers that veterans are great hires." He added that fully restoring the GI Bill in the last budget also will help veterans get additional training at no cost, which benefits both the veteran and his or her employer.
The state Department of Workforce Development's release on the labor market in January comes out Thursday. The state has had private-sector job losses for sixth straight months, according to The Associated Press. Walker said economic turmoil overseas has had an impact on many Wisconsin companies that rely heavily on exports to Europe.
"I think it's going to take a few months to pull out of that," he said.
Wisconsin's job growth continues to lag the rest of the country, Vinehout said, and employers have job openings but are unable to find skilled workers.
"One specific step the state could take is to pass Senate Bill 40, a bill I co-authored," she said. "The bill would provide money to technical colleges to train workers in needed occupations. The bill was passed in the Senate with bipartisan support and needs immediate attention in the Assembly."
Walker referred to Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, which is its lowest since 2008 and more than a full percentage point less than the U.S. rate. He added that statewide chamber of commerce surveys show businesses believe the state is headed in the right direction.
Economic growth will depend on different groups -- Democrats and Republicans, the public and private sectors -- working together, he said.
"There are still much too many of our friends, neighbors and veterans looking for work," Walker said.
Marlaire can be reached at 715-833-9215, 800-236-7077 or email@example.com.
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