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What do we Need? People! When do we Need Them? Now!

January 30th, 2020 | Published by NEW Construction Alliance

The Milwaukee Business Journal recently held a panel discussion about the greatest threats to sustaining the flourishing commercial real estate market in the Milwaukee region. While the expert panel was answering questions about the Milwaukee area, it is easy to extrapolate those concerns and apply them to our region-Northeast Wisconsin.

Once again topping the list? The growing labor shortage. There were two comments of particular note.

First from Eric Wynn, Findorff’s director of project management and general manager of Southeast Wisconsin, who observed: “We still haven’t hit the number of people that we had in the construction trades prior to the 2008 recession. That downturn prompted a lot of retirees and early retirees, and we still haven’t fully reloaded the workforce. As a result, we are constantly looking to recruit new workers.”

On its own, it may not sound like a wholly unique observation. But when taken in context with the workforce population projections from the Department of Workforce Development for the next 10-15 years, it leads to a very striking conclusion: We need more people.

It’s not just a matter of luring potential workers from the four-year college track or from other industries; we need to take steps to make Wisconsin a workplace destination.

Debby Tomczyk, shareholder at Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, S.C., cited The Milwaukee Bucks and Northwestern Mutual successfully creating new labor pipelines by focusing their recruiting efforts to underserved communities.

Alliance vice chairman, Stan Johnson, has been investigating how to create a similar pipeline for Northeast Wisconsin by tapping into the ALICE population. Identified by the United Way, ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. Stay tuned for developments on this front in 2020.

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