|We've got NEWS|
| Thursday, July 16, 1998 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
Michael H. McCoy
DWD strengthens W-2 success ladder
Madison -- Linda Stewart, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), laid the groundwork today for Wisconsin Works (W-2) participants to continue making progress after they find jobs and leave welfare.
The Secretary announced a series of creative recommendations from Governor Thompsons W-2 Education and Training Committee to help participants find and retain jobs under W-2 and move on to better jobs. The proposals training initiatives will also help address the emerging labor shortage predicted in the near future.
"The Committee realized that to ensure long-term workforce attachment, well need to give people the chance to move into a job," said Secretary Stewart, "but more than that, they need the chance to gain skills needed to keep that job and advance." She noted, while sustained employment is a key for those new to the workforce, employee retention is also a key issue for Wisconsin employers.
W-2s design combines work with education and training, and past experience indicates this is the best approach. Recommendations covered in the report released on July 16 clarify W-2s role. While demonstrating Wisconsins commitment to help people enter the workforce and move toward self-sufficiency, the recommendations also create workforce solutions addressing the needs of Wisconsin employers.
One key finding of the report is the importance of a high school education to help people increase incomes and find satisfying, productive employment. The report noted that the number of W-2 participants with a high school diploma currently stands at only about 17 percent.
The report addresses five key types of workforce training:
- Basic skills
- High School equivalency or diploma training --
- Workforce readiness skills
- Short-term specific skill training
- Employer-based training
"After a new worker joins the workforce through W-2," said Stewart, "we continue to address their needs through child care, health care, food stamps, and other linkages such as the Financial and Employment Planners.
"When we look for ways to apply the recommendations of the committee," said Stewart, "we will look toward developing a strong collaboration with Wisconsins Technical College system to deliver the needed training." The technical college systems efforts to deliver the five key types of workforce training will also be augmented by training from employers, community based organizations, and other training institutions.
DWD Secretary Stewart and Racine County Human Services Director Bill Adams chaired the 24-member committee, which consisted of representatives of local W-2 agencies, community-based organizations, employers, labor, legislators and workforce specialists.
When W-2 started on September 1, 1997, a total of 34,430 families were on AFDC. By May (the most recent month available) only 11,261 were receiving cash assistance while learning to become independent through W-2.
The committee reported that the average W-2 participant is 29.2 years old and has 2.4 children to support. Seven of every 10 W-2 participants (75.4 percent) have never been married. And most do not have a high school education.
"Wisconsins past experience with work programs has demonstrated that education and training activities are most meaningful when they are combined with work," the committees report concluded.
"These education and training recommendations, coupled with a strong partnership with employers, community based organizations, and the Wisconsin Technical College System, will strengthen W-2," noted Stewart., "while they will help us remain true to our work-focused mission."
ATTACHMENT 1: Summary of key recommendations found in the report
of the Wisconsin Works (W-2) Education and Training Committee:
In addition to the training recommended by the Committee, W-2 providers working with W-2 recipients should also focus on:
The Committee is further asking the legislature to:
Committee recommendations which do not need legislative authority include: