7 Rivers Workforce Development Plan
The Workforce Innovation for a Strong Economy (WISE) Plan is the culmination of a nearly yearlong effort to understand and address the workforce preparation, retention and recruitment challenges faced by businesses and communities across the 7 Rivers Alliance Region.Through a series of interviews, working group sessions, subject matter forums and significant economic research, the WISE Plan workforce gap analysis revealed that the 7 Rivers Region needs to attract and retain 1,500-2,000 more workers each year during the next decade to keep up with employer demand. This is a daunting challenge, but the WISE Talent Plan outlines strategies for tackling these issues, and identifies champions who can lead efforts to improve Talent Preparation, Recruitment, and Retention prospects throughout the region.
The region covers 14 counties across Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and Northeast Iowa, a predominantly rural area with two urban centers in La Crosse, WI and Winona, MN. For the purposes of this study, we included Pierce County in Wisconsin and Fayette County in Iowa. The development of the WISE Plan included involvement from more than 500 business and community leaders during 28 small group interviews, three talent working group sessions, six subject matter forums, four Steering Committee working sessions and research.
The WISE Plan focuses on three areas for action: Talent Preparation, Talent Retention and Talent Recruitment. Interwoven throughout the WISE Plan are strategies designed to address critical workforce impediments related to housing, transportation and childcare.
Talent Preparation strategies include programs and activities that build stronger connections between the region’s students and business and industry, and inform and educate guidance/career counselors and other influencing adults about the opportunities that exist within the region. This is where the INSPIRE program ties into our strategies for the WISE plan.
Talent Recruitment strategies include marketing the region and its assets to well-defined targets, sharing stories and messages of success and inclusion, and ensuring that new families are welcomed and supported upon arrival.
Talent Retention strategies include collecting and sharing best practices with the region’s employers that support and enhance the experiences of their current employees. Worker retention might occur by reducing the out-migration, but it may be even more important to slow the rate of retirements over time to allow the economy to adjust.For a full version of The WISE plan, click here
For a summary version of The WISE plan, click here
The WISE Plan highlights the key challenges regarding the workforce, including:
Declining population and aging workforce
Misguided perceptions about employment opportunities in the region
Mismatch of skills between what is being produced by region’s post-secondary institutions and the needs of local employers
Lack of diversity within the region
Out migration and out-commuting
Limited childcare options and affordability
Competition from nearby employment centers
The WISE Plan addresses these challenges through strategies and actions to achieve the following goals:
Increase student and worker employ-ability skills
Educate students, educators, parents, and other community members about the educational requirements for high paying, in-demand careers
Prepare incumbent workers and mature job seekers to have greater flexibility in the workplace
Promote the 7 Rivers Region to targeted groups about the region’s benefits
Foster inclusive regional communities to better attract minority and underrepresented individuals
Provide businesses and job seekers with comparative economic information
Ensure the availability of affordable housing for the region’s workforce
Provide information and tools that help companies prepare for pending retirements
Develop public-private childcare partnerships to increase childcare facility capacity and address affordability gaps
Bolster more connections and relationships between currently enrolled students, regional employers, and local communities
Improve transit, ride-sharing, and multi-modal transportation options, and make transportation system more accessible
Ultimately, the success of the WISE Plan depends on implementation of the strategies and actions put forth in this plan. True progress can only be achieved when a diverse set of local partners coalesce around a shared vision and clear goals. The ambitious, comprehensive nature of the WISE Plan requires a concerted effort across many organizations in the public and private sectors. Guided by the 7 Rivers Alliance, champion organizations from all areas of local life must be engaged throughout the plan’s implementation. Moving forward, work should focus on advancing the strategies identified in this plan.
For more information about The WISE plan, please contact 7 Rivers Alliance Chris Hardie firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.787.8777
WISE Gap Analysis
This analysis pinpoints key talent needs of targeted WISE region industries. The purpose is to identify gaps in the region’s talent pool and aid educators and trainers in aligning and targeting their resources for the needs of these industries.
Click here to view WISE Gap Analysis
Below are several sources to address the WISE Gap Analysis:
WISE in the News
May 22, 2019
March 21, 2017
February 15, 2017
January 30, 2017
October 14, 2016