Bragging Rights & News

Workforce Development

| December 12, 2017

Each week Sports Illustrated magazine runs a small tongue-in-cheek piece titled “Sign of the Apocalypse.”  It highlights something weird in the world of sports that might point to this ultimate danger.  To date, despite this long-running caution we have survived.

I thought of this recently when I saw, at two of the area’s most popular restaurants, signs that read “Help Wanted.”  Could that possibly be?  Back in the day, a job at either of these places was prized!

You might have seen a well-crafted piece by Melissa Worthington in a recent Envision Greater Fond du Lac newsletter noting that Fond du Lac faces an employment skills mismatch.  Prospective workers lack the skills needed in the workplace. And with local unemployment under three percent we are also hurting for workers period, as Melissa points out. Well, this is serious stuff and when our favorite restaurants have a problem, it’s time to take heed.

We’re not alone.

Skills mismatch and a shortage of workers are common economic challenges that cross municipal and state borders.  At Envision Greater Fond du Lac, Inc. (the organization resulting in the recent merger of the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation and the Association of Commerce) the staff works at those twin problems daily. But can we do more?  We need to expand the workforce.  Is the employee base sufficient to staff a new operation?  That question tops the list when site selectors look to locate a new business.

Sounds like a high-level problem. Let’s focus here only on expanding our workforce. Nothing the individual citizen can do about it.  Right?  Not so fast.  Population growth in Fond du Lac has been steady, but slow for generations. Some like it that way, but it’s not the traditional path to strong economic development.

Consider these personal actions that can have a cumulative positive impact on growing our population and therefore, our workforce base.  Each of us could:

  • Support initiatives to improve the quality of life in Fond du Lac. There is more and more evidence that job seekers look for a place they want to live… and then a job.
  • Buy local. The low hanging fruit in expanding the economy is growing already successful businesses.
  • Talk positively about our city to outsiders. It’s worked for Yelp and Trip Advisor.
  • Be welcoming to newcomers. They’ll tell their friends.
  • Support initiatives that get positive media attention for Fond du Lac. Getting our name in the paper for the right reasons creates a favorable image.
  • Encourage retirees to remain in Fond du Lac. Let Florida and Arizona get their money from others.
  • Expand initiatives that retain our young people in Fond du Lac. You’ve heard it before – our youth are our future.
  • Encourage forward-thinking citizens to run for public office. Their decisions are important.

Growing our workforce also means growing the tax base and that’s something everyone should like.

Destination Lake Winnebago Region