MADISON, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Governor Scott Walker attended the 13th biennial Wisconsin Manufacturing and Technology Show at the State Fair Park in Milwaukee Thursday.
The event brings together industry representatives from across the state and the country to see the latest manufacturing technologies.
"Manufacturing is a leading force in economic development in our state right now," Governor Walker said. "The industry provides hundreds of thousands of families across the state with stable family supporting jobs. Innovation and worker training are important areas for investment so we can continue to see increased growth."
The Wisconsin Manufacturing and Technology Show has been held biennially since 1989. The event has a strong following, with over 200 exhibitors and 5,000 attendees participating each year. The theme for this year's expo was "Originating New Ideas and Methods to Increase a Viable Labor Force for the Manufacturing Industry." The three-day event culminated with a Student Day, aimed at encouraging high school juniors and seniors to consider a career in the manufacturing industry.
The manufacturing industry is a critical and growing component of Wisconsin's economy. Between December 2010 and December 2012, Wisconsin added 19,339 manufacturing jobs, making the state the 6th in the nation for job growth in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing accounts for 19.9 percent of Wisconsin's gross product, totaling $49.9 billion in 2012. There are currently about 9,400 manufacturing employers in the state, employing nearly 450,000 workers. The industry accounts for 16.8 percent of the total workforce in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's manufacturing workforce is highly skilled and innovative, with 46 percent having completed some post-secondary education. More than 324 school districts currently offer manufacturing-related courses in areas such as welding, metalworking, and machining. During the 2012-13 school year, the youth apprenticeship program had 360 students enrolled in manufacturing-related programs.
Wisconsin manufacturers rely on a trained workforce to keep pace with increasing production and business demands. Targeted investments from the state are aimed at alleviating the skills gap. The bipartisan fall legislative agenda includes a package of eight bills aimed at enhancing the state's workforce development efforts, including investments in apprenticeship training and incentives for high schools graduating students with job ready credentials.