INDUSTRY: About this projectFor more than a decade, it’s been one of those great ironies — people complain there are no living wage jobs in Superior and Douglas County. At the same time, economic development professionals say employers have jobs. The problem is they have a hard time finding people with the skills to fill those positions.
For more than a decade, it’s been one of those great ironies — people complain there are no living wage jobs in Superior and Douglas County. At the same time, economic development professionals say employers have jobs. The problem is they have a hard time finding people with the skills to fill those positions.
Coupled with recent announcements that at least 900 new living-wage jobs would be created after the city landed Kestrel Aircraft Co., and locally grown Exodus Machines aligns with heavy equipment heavyweight Caterpillar, the question that stood out: How does one land a living-wage job?
Over the next three weeks, the Superior Telegram will take a look at the opportunity that is out there for Superior and Douglas County residents with the help of students from the University of Wisconsin-Superior gaining experience writing for the news media.
But make no mistake, it’s not an issue that is an exclusive problem for employers and potential employees in Douglas County.
Last week, Gov. Scott Walker said it’s an issue he’s heard from small business owners and employers across the state as he’s held listening sessions with businesses around the state, including one in Lake Minnesuing in Douglas County.
“One of the most amazing things I’ve heard around the state — it’s a common theme and an opportunity of the time — I hear employers say all the time ‘I have jobs; I have jobs right now. But I don’t have the skilled workers to fill it,” Walker said during a stop at Superior-based Lakehead Constructors last week.
After hearing that over and over throughout the state, Walker said state officials went back to technical colleges to find out if they were training workers for the kinds of jobs employers need to fill. While the courses are available, he said, there are a lot of vacancies in those classes.
“We need to do a better job marketing the value of a career in manufacturing,” Walker said.
While planning for this project started long before the governor’s stop in Superior last week, we can’t argue there’s a gap between perceptions and skills employers need to reach markets throughout the world.
We hope that talking to our industrious business owners and local educational institutions, we can help close that gap.