Many unemployed Wisconsinites find they need additional work skills to obtain a new job. Therefore, I have co-authored Wisconsin Wins.
Essentially, job seekers will be given an opportunity to prove their value as an employee while employers will be accorded an opportunity to vet and train a new employee without the usual risks and costs involved.
Beginning as a pilot program, Wisconsin Wins matches Unemployment Insurance claimants to prospective employers in need of a skilled workforce. Program volunteers will receive unpaid occupational training directly from the employer for 20 to 24 hours per week up to 6 weeks.
During the training period, each participant will continue to receive unemployment compensation from the state plus a $75.00 per week stipend. In order to qualify, a person would have to be in the first 26 weeks of their benefit year.
The employer is responsible for on the job training costs, but will not have to incur the risks of hiring an unknown entity to their business. Meanwhile, the participating job seeker gains an opportunity to learn a new trade as well as the potential of permanent employment at the end of the training session.
Under the bill, prospective employers who want to offer training apply with the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). In order to participate in the program, the employer must have one job opening for each training participant. If the participant’s training is successful, it is up to the employer whether or not to offer the job.
According to the summary provided by the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau; “The bill also provides that a claimant who is participating in special occupational training is considered an employee of the state for purposes of worker’s compensation benefits and prohibits such a claimant from making a claim or brining on action in tort against the employer that provided the special occupational training.”
Furthermore; “The bill directs DWD to report to the legislature no later than December 31, 2014, concerning the effectiveness of the program and DWD’s recommendations for extension of the program or changes to the program to enhance its effectiveness.”
I have co-authored Wisconsin Wins with Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau. Precedent has already been set with similar programs successfully established in Georgia (Georgia Works), New Hampshire (Return to Work), and Missouri (Work Ready Missouri).
While there is no single fix to bring Wisconsin’s unemployment numbers down, “Wisconsin Wins” is another tool to create a healthy employment environment. Most importantly, it provides an additional opportunity for unemployed Wisconsinites to re-enter the workforce.