As the State of Wisconsin intensifies its focus on how best to meet talent and economic development needs, UW-Eau Claire is engaging in new efforts to strengthen its longstanding commitment to collaborating with partners in education, private business, and economic development organizations to find solutions to what is a nationwide talent and skills gap challenge.
Following up on the Competitive Wisconsin Be Bold 2 summit held at UW-Eau Claire in December, we hosted a meeting last week that brought together leaders from western Wisconsin’s three UW System campuses, Chippewa Valley Technical College, chambers of commerce, state and regional economic development organizations, Momentum West and private businesses, as well as state Rep. Warren Petryk, to talk about next steps toward addressing regionally the talent and workforce gaps identified in the Be Bold 2 report.
The clear consensus around the table was that it is critical that we continue to strategically work together and think regionally as we move forward on talent and economic development initiatives.
Specifically, the group asked UW-Eau Claire and Manpower to lead a pilot project that will focus on the nursing and health-related professionals skills cluster that the Be Bold 2 report identified as being a high need in our state.
The Be Bold 2 report found that there will be significant talent shortages in nursing and health-related professions as the workforce ages and fewer people enter the fields to replace them. For example, the study finds that more than 46 percent of registered nurses are planning to retire over the next nine years.
Given our quality programs in nursing and other health-related and life sciences fields, UW-Eau Claire is in an excellent position to lead this pilot project. With our resources and expertise, we will analyze data from the Be Bold 2 report and other sources, and identify strategies and opportunities for best meeting the anticipated nursing and health-related workforce needs in western Wisconsin and beyond.
Already, we have strong partnerships with major health care organizations in our area, including Mayo Clinic Health System and Marshfield Clinic, and we are working collaboratively with other institutions that educate nurses. We stand ready to take to the next level our role in developing talent in nursing and the health professions by leading this shared pilot initiative.
Manpower, a world leader in helping business and industry meet their talent needs, will be an invaluable partner as we study the complex challenges and varied opportunities that will help us address our region’s current and future needs for talent development in health-related industries. We thank them for their willingness to work with us as we move this initiative forward.
It’s my hope that last week’s kickoff meeting is just the beginning of ongoing, meaningful and productive discussions with the many entities that are so committed to keeping our region and state moving forward.
It’s my intent that the pilot project we develop for the nursing and health professions cluster will serve as a roadmap for future projects that focus on the other skill clusters around which our region and state’s talent development efforts must focus.
Those of us in higher education understand the need to educate our students in ways that will help them succeed in today’s complex, interconnected and always changing world. We know that we must graduate students with critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills — the backbones of a liberal arts degree — if our region and state are to grow and thrive in today’s world of innovation.
Most importantly, we also understand that we can’t do it alone. We must continue to partner with employers, technical colleges and the many important organizations whose missions center around talent and economic development in western Wisconsin and beyond.