Unemployment is a largely publicized issue in the United States, with state and national unemployment numbers hanging in the 8 to 10 percent range. With these staggering figures in unemployment, it would be easy to assume that jobs are unavailable. However, Fond du Lac County officials found that assumption to be entirely the opposite. The county, as well as many other Midwestern counties, is experiencing a workforce shortage.
According to the 2011 Retirement and Departure Intentions survey, conducted by the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce and the Fond du Lac Area HR Association in conjunction with Moraine Park Technical College, about 26,500 employees will retire by 2026 in Fond du Lac County. The projected number of workers needed to fill these positions is about 7,000. This will leave the county with a shortage of 19,500 workers.
Faced with this potentially crippling shortage, the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce formed a community group of key area representatives to improve local workforce development and economic stability.
“Professional research of the Fond du Lac area workforce consistently demonstrates a shift in demographics which places the entire community in an immediate and critical situation; there will simply not be enough competitively skilled workers to fill available jobs in the future without aggressive solutions being developed and implemented now,” said the group’s consensus statement.
The committee includes 15 members, who represent business, education, and government. Robert Fale, chair of the committee and retired president of Agnesian Healthcare says, ““Boiled down, this group is tasked with a two-pronged problem. How do we address and correct the significant skilled labor shortage? And how do we attract and retain individuals, local, non-local, and those returning to Fond du Lac?”
The primary objectives of the group, laid out by its consensus statement, are:
1) To develop and recruit local talent
2) To attract new (non-local) workers to the Fond du Lac area
3) To retain both local and non-local talent.
For now, the committee and its actions remain in the early stages of discussion. Information about these objectives will be made available to the public as discussion continues. Potential discussions on the subject would include committee members, community members and area organizations.
Fale says, “The dialogue has begun and solutions are being sought and implemented, which will have a dramatic impact on our community.”