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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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Practical solutions to bridge the skills gap

Educational leaders and enlightened business executives will share practical solutions for employers to bridge Wisconsin's skills gap at the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference.

The conference will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

A panel of experts in workforce development, education and executive enlightenment will convene to share their insights about how southeastern Wisconsin's educational institutions and infrastructure, as well as the private sector, can collaborate to develop smarter employees who have the skills that employers need to grow their companies and the region's economy. The conference also will feature a discussion about how the region's executives can become more enlightened and effective leaders.

The conference will kick off with opening remarks by Tim Sullivan, who is serving as a special consultant for business and workforce development for Gov. Scott Walker. Sullivan recently submitted his long-awaited workforce development report to Walker, calling for bold actions to address the gap between the skills needed by the state's employers and the skills of the available workforce.

The report, "The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin Workforce Development," is a comprehensive review of the background and current issues pertaining to workforce development in the state.

Sullivan will outline his bold recommendations at the Get Smarter Conference.

Sullivan's remarks will be followed by a panel discussion of workforce development and executive enlightenment. The featured panelists will include:

  • Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lovell will discuss the future of collegiate education and share ideas for how employers can become engaged with the region's universities.
  • Joe Weitzer, dean of the Center for Business Performance Solutions at Waukesha County Technical College. Weitzer will discuss how the Wisconsin Technical College System is responding to the need for trained employees in the skilled trades.
  • Peggy Troy, president and chief executive officer of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Troy will discuss the burgeoning employment opportunities in the health care field as the baby boom generation ages and the need for effective professional training and executive enlightenment.
  • Keith Coursin, president of Desert Aire Corp., a Germantown company specializing in production of mechanical refrigeration equipment used for control humidity. Coursin has served as chairman at the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a trade association based in Washington, D.C. Coursin will share insights about a bold scholarship program to attract new candidates for employment in the HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry.
  • Greg Johnson, general manager of Power Test Inc., a Sussex company specializing in the design, manufacture and implementation of dynamometers and dyno control systems. Power Test recently formed Manufacturer's Resource Training (MRT), a startup company focused on training people for entry machinist positions in manufacturing companies. The nine-week program will provide hands-on training using the Power Test production facility and equipment for entry-level candidates for employment in manufacturing.

I will have the honor of moderating the panel discussion.

The panel discussion will then be followed by a series of breakout sessions for executives interested in learning to become more enlightened and effective leaders. The sessions will be led by highly acclaimed consultants in the BizTimes network.

The workshops will include:

  • "Are we on the same page? What employers and employees need to understand about developing talent and producing outstanding results!" (Led by Alonzo Kelly, president and CEO of Kelly Leadership Group LLC).
  • "A leader's no-budget guide to talent development." (Led by Susan Marshall, author and president of Executive Advisor LLC)
  • "So you want to hire a leader? What skills are most important? Why does it matter? Beginning with consciousness – crucial leadership skills in an era of heightened change. (Led by Christine Hill, president of Collaborative Nature)
  • "Practical strategies to bridge the skilled labor workforce gap." (Led Dave Vetta, First Business Bank; Stephanie Borowski, Second Chance Partners; Austin Ramirez, HUSCO International; Jessie Augustyn, Wisconsin's Office of Business Development; and Joseph Weitzer, Waukesha County Technical College).

To join BizTimes in building a smarter Milwaukee, register to attend the conference at biztimes.com/smart.

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