The Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Youth Workforce Readiness chaired by state Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) and vice-chaired by state Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) held its first meeting on Thursday, September 10 at the State Capitol.
The task force heard invited testimony from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), the Beloit School District, the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) among others.
The presenters gave overviews of current programs and initiatives aimed at youth employment in their respective organizations.
A lot of time was devoted by DWD to the Youth Apprenticeship program and how it is a key bridge to transitioning students to a Registered Apprenticeship and the start of a manufacturing career. The WTCS spoke about the dual enrollment opportunities available through their campuses statewide while the Beloit School District gave a presentation on their state of the art technical education program. The district also employs a privately funded “career advocate” to work with their students full time on connecting them with career pathways. DPI presented examples statewide where districts have successful programming in career and technical education, partnerships with business and tech colleges, and highlighted grant programs and other incentives. Disability advocates presented on the benefits of getting students with disabilities preparing for work as early as 15 years old which was tried in 12 pilot school districts and showed positive results.
A common theme from the hearing is that great programs are available but more efforts need to be made to build awareness of this programming. Another common theme is the need for the state to continue to provide resources in this area.
The second hearing is scheduled for September 29 in Wausau at North Central Technical College.
The hearing was taped and can be watched it it’s entirety on Wisconsin Eye.