President Barack Obama Cites Wisconsin’s Efforts to Bring Manufacturing Jobs Back to the U.S. as a Model for the Rest of the Nation
On January 30, 2014, President Barack Obama visited the GE-Energy Waukesha Gas Engines plant to celebrate the inroads made by Wisconsin manufacturing companies in designing and implementing training programs aimed to fill vast vacancies for highly skilled jobs.
GE-Energy Waukesha Gas Engines’ employee Reggie Troop, who introduced the President, represents the essence of the success of this program. Once unemployed, Troop received training from the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)/BIG-STEP, an organization which is “industry-led, worker-centered and community-focused.” Their mission is “to enhance the ability of private sector organizations to recruit and develop a more diverse, qualified workforce in construction, manufacturing and emerging sectors of the regional economy.”
In a speech before hundreds of employees of the GE-Energy Plant, some of whom have gone through the training programs, President Obama laid out a multi-part plan to address filling jobs in manufacturing through training, and signed an executive order appointing Vice President Joe Biden to lead a review of worker training programs across all states. Obama said, “The country can take a page from the Badger State’s book,” to show the Nation how worker training is essential for creating and filling more jobs. “It includes creating more manufacturing jobs, training more Americans with the skills to fill those jobs, and making sure the hard work pays off with good wages,” the President added.
Brian White, President of GE-Energy Waukesha Gas Engines and his team, have relentlessly worked to reverse the skills gap and create jobs. In September of 2012, the company announced the hiring of 115 employees. Brian’s career in manufacturing started in a shop, as an apprentice. He was featured in a video by Dream It! Do It! Wisconsin titled “Upward Bound – Wisconsin Manufacturing Careers,” which documented his journey.
In a January 31, 2014 article by Alison Bauter of the Milwaukee Business Journal, White was quoted referring to the working training at GE, “phenomenal.” “You’ve never seen that level of excitement before,” Brian White added, “ It’s like, ‘Oh, this is great! Finally, manufacturing is back alive in America. We’re not outsourcing jobs, we’re growing the businesses, bringing jobs in and training people.’”
Brian White will be part of the Second Manufacturing Career Panel at Elkhart Area High School to be held on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Other panelists include Mary Isbister of GenMet (who was a VIP guest for the President’s visit), Hanan Fishman of PartMaker, and Mike Reader of Precision Plus
Speaking of the impending review of worker training programs across the U.S., Mike Reader added, “Any program that has been in existence for a number of years, may need a major overhaul. I can speak for all manufacturers when I say that we would be happy to have a seat at the table. Talking about it is the easy part, implementing the right changes to drive success will take leadership and tenacity. We would be happy to share ideas on a path forward.”