“Only those countries
and communities with well-trained labor forces
will thrive in a knowledge-based economy.”
Every Wisconsin citizen should be concerned about factors shaping Wisconsin’s future labor force and their implications.
Together, these factors suggest that in the years ahead, Wisconsin will have an increasingly less educated labor force and an older population. Most important, Wisconsin’s young adults will not be able to find good career opportunities in Wisconsin. Fewer will stay and fewer will return, a loss with both economic and social implications.
Fortunately, our future is not set in stone, but the challenge is great. How can we retain and attract talent? Create a work force second to none? Infuse Wisconsin businesses with technology advantages? Protect the quality of life across Wisconsin’s diverse regions and communities?
Change is needed in order to ensure a beneficial future for Wisconsin’s children and families. The first step is for Wisconsin to initiate a new kind of conversation. The CEO of a thriving Wisconsin-headquartered company with suppliers throughout Asia says it best: “I wish all our leaders would spend a month in China to understand the economic risks facing Wisconsin…and the truly discouraging implications for our grandchildren. How can we solve our problems if we’re not even asking the right questions?”
The UW System is asking the right questions. Please learn more about Advantage Wisconsin—how the UW System is helping Wisconsin create a more positive future.
- Wisconsin currently ranks 30th in the percent of its population aged 25+ with baccalaureate degrees, which is below the national average;
- Wisconsin faces a net out-migration of college-educated young adults owing to a lack of well-paying jobs compared to urban centers like the Twin Cities and Chicago that offer higher salaries and proportionately more jobs in well-paying occupations;
- Wisconsin has the worst fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math performance in the nation for black youths, and the largest black-white score gap;
- Wisconsin’s high school population is forecasted to shrink while groups with traditionally lower college attendance and graduation rates comprise a larger share of traditional college-age youth;
- Wisconsin's current per-capita income shortfall is $2,300 compared to the United States and $4,700 compared to Minnesota;
- Wisconsin ranks 34th in the percent of its private sector workers in high-tech, fast-growing industries;
- Four Wisconsin cities were among the 20 cities with the greatest 2005-2007 drop in key economic outcomes. No Wisconsin community makes the list for 25 best-performing cities or 20 cities with the greatest 2005-2007 performance improvements;
- Despite strong intellectual property, Wisconsin’s rate of business start-ups falls short of most other states; and
- Wisconsin’s largest urban area, Milwaukee, is confronting challenging systemic issues due to poverty and a significant reduction in middle-class jobs for those lacking higher education.