Central Wisconsin businesses face worker shortage - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Central Wisconsin businesses face worker shortage

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Business is booming for a Central Wisconsin industry, but it's facing a big problem, finding people to work.

Construction companies are having a hard time keeping up, unable to fill open positions as the workforce diminishes.

"Construction in terms of economic impact is one of the emerging economies," said Northcentral Wisconsin Workforce Development Board Business Director Derek Heikkinen.  "They're having the same problem that everybody else is having, there's a significant skilled labor shortage."

Heikkinen said the lack of skilled laborers could have an impact on the economy.

"If we don't have the talent to supply these jobs these businesses might close or they might move their businesses and that might hurt the quality of life," said Heikkinen.

Heikkinen said there are several different reasons this problem has arose.

"We have 40 percent of our basically skilled workforce retiring by 2023," said Heikkinen. "Essentially they're leaving Wisconsin and seeking employment elsewhere."

Construction companies along with other organizations partnered with Northcentral Technical College for a training pilot project to teach students the skills they need to enter the construction workforce.

"So much knowledge, anything from basic hand tools to basic electricity, I mean it's a basic skill but you need to start somewhere," said student Josh Opper.

Opper and 13 other students graduated the program and hope to land a job in one of the many construction companies throughout central Wisconsin.

Construction isn't the only industry in need, Heikkinen said other industries are struggling as well including healthcare, manufacturing and education to name a few.

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