Businesses across Wisconsin and throughout the entire country are currently dealing with a workforce shortage, which is being brought on by low unemployment and baby boomer retirements. The demand and competition for workers is steadily increasing. Rural areas of the state, especially Northwest Wisconsin, are feeling this impact. By 2025, over a third of the population will be 65 plus years of age. Many initiatives are taking place to attract talent and also retain it.

Together in partnership the Ashland Area Development Corporation, Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, Cooperative Educational Service Agency 12 (CESA 12), and the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board have coordinated a Tech Ed Inservice Day on for Thursday, October 19th, to be held at and hosted by Northwestern High School in Maple, WI. Sponsorship of the event also comes from the Tech Council Innovation Network – Lake Superior Chapter. This event for tech ed teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors from across the CESA 12 district (17 districts) will provide them with the opportunity to network with each other, learn how to strengthen their curriculums, and to be exposed to how industry interfaces with schools to support Tech Ed programs to help these programs grow and flourish. This event will lay the groundwork for establishing connections between regional K-12 school districts and businesses to create a natural talent pipeline and future workforce.

The Inservice Day will include presentations by faculty at both Hurley and Northwestern High Schools, who have manufacturing curriculums already established at their facilities. After the presentation, there will be a tour the Northwestern High School’s facility and lab, which will allow attendees to see first-hand an example of the layout and setup needed to implement this type of curriculum.

In the competition for talent, manufacturers face additional issues because of the public’s perception of what manufacturing is today compared to what it was 25 years ago. In Northwest Wisconsin, the 2016 average annual wage for the industry was $44,120, which is well above the total industry. A critical component of this event is educating school district faculty and staff on how to engage with businesses to strengthen their curriculums and programs to align with the needs of this industry. The second half of this day is dedicated to presentations by manufacturing employers to inform school district faculty and staff about career opportunities in this growing industry. Dan Conroy, formerly of Nexen Group, is the keynote speaker and will be discussing how businesses and school districts can partner together for the future. In addition to this keynote address, there will be a business and industry panel discussion with regional employers giving insight on how schools can successfully build relationships with employers and also what they anticipate their future workforce needs will be. Panelists include representatives from the following businesses: Absolut Manufacturing, BW Papersystems, Extreme Tool, & Northern Engineering.

For more information regarding this event, please contact Melissa Rabska, Operations and Communications Manager for the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, at or 715-682-9141, ext. 122.

8:30 – 9:00 AM Registration
9:00 -9:15 AM Welcome

Scottie Sandstrom, Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation

9:15 -10:15 AM Manufacturing @ Maple
10:15 – 10:30 AM Break
10:30 – 11:30 AM Manufacturing @ Hurley
11:30 – 12:00 PM Tour of Maple Facilities & Labs
12:00 – 12:45 PM Lunch with Keynote Speaker

Dan Conroy, Nexen Group  

12:45 – 1:00 PM Break
1:00 – 2:00 PM Business & Industry Panel

Moderated by Betsey Harries, Ashland Area Development Corporation

2:00 – 2:30 PM Closing Comments & Evaluation

Melissa Rabska, Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board
Marie Steenlage, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Andy Eaton, CESA 12

2:30 PM Depart