In a joint initiative aimed at addressing Wisconsin’s workforce development needs, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin System (UWS) today announced the creation of a new position that will lead and coordinate statewide efforts to attract and retain talent for both organizations.
The new talent initiatives director will work with WEDC and the UWS Office of Economic Development to help align local, regional and statewide talent and workforce initiatives. The director will engage with organizations to provide insight and policy development to support the talent needs of Wisconsin’s businesses. In addition, the director will serve as liaison to organizations and institutions seeking to develop and support complementary talent initiatives. WEDC is now accepting applications for the position, and the new director is expected to be hired by the end of the year.
“Wisconsin is experiencing its lowest unemployment levels and highest levels of labor participation in decades, which means it’s more important than ever to attract and retain a strong talent pool,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and COO of WEDC. “WEDC and the UW System are already working with our partners around the state on workforce development issues, and dedicating one person to coordinate those efforts will clearly strengthen that collaboration.”
“The consistent message from employers is they want and need employees who think critically, operate creatively and work collaboratively,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “About 85 percent of UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin, and this new role will help us stay connected to Wisconsin businesses. We know every time a student secures an internship with a Wisconsin employer, the likelihood of that student staying here is increased, benefiting the economy and keeping our state a great place to live.”
The talent initiatives director will assess, develop and coordinate talent development strategies supported jointly by WEDC and UWS. Some of the responsibilities of the director will include:
- Communicating current and future talent needs of Wisconsin’s targeted industries to organizations engaged in talent attraction or development efforts.
- Assisting WEDC grant recipients in creating or sustaining successful pilot projects focused on talent attraction, retention or development.
- Identifying ways to incorporate talent-focused provisions into current and future WEDC programs and initiatives.
- Working collaboratively with post-secondary institutions to encourage Wisconsin graduates via alumni groups and other networks to engage and reconnect with Wisconsin communities and companies.
- Providing support for the UW System Business Council and other discussion forums to increase dialogue with business leaders, elected officials and citizen groups.
The talent initiatives director will work closely with WEDC’s Marketing and Brand Strategy Division to coordinate talent-related messaging, outreach and events, including the Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin effort.
Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin is a unified statewide message designed to communicate opportunities for career and personal success to people looking for the best location to pursue their passions. In addition to promoting the state’s world-class educational system, healthcare quality, groundbreaking innovation and unmatched recreational assets, Think-Make-Happen also leverages workforce development programs to help prepare and connect job seekers with current and future jobs in Wisconsin.
The new post is modeled after the economic development liaison position, which has been a shared function of UW and WEDC since 2012. Through that office, WEDC and UW have collaborated on numerous initiatives, including the Ideadvance seed fund, the WiSys Technology Foundation, the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation (REDI) Committee of the UW System Board of Regents, UW Career Connect and UW-Madison’s Discovery to Product (D2P).
Since the creation of that position, held by UW Associate Vice President David Brukardt, UW and WEDC have worked together to attract nearly $8 million in private match funds from U.S. and global partners to support faculty research and campus-based economic development initiatives.