Gannett Wisconsin Media kicked off the “State of Opportunity” series in October 2014 with a simple premise: To help connect businesses, educators, and prospective employees with career and workforce opportunities across Wisconsin.
While the premise was simple, the stories were powerful. In all, 20 professions were featured, dozens of businesses profiled and scores of students, young and old, shared stories about their journey from the classroom to career. As you’d expect, some of their paths were straight and linear while others took sharp turns or held unexpected obstacles.
Yet even in the face of adversity, optimism endured. Optimism is a word you’ll hear repeated often in talk about Wisconsin’s economic prospects, whether it be at the highest levels of state government or among young adults choosing to start their careers on the proverbial lowest rungs of the workforce ladder.
“Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to be able to manufacture and develop talent and human capital in whatever industry and sector that's in demand now and going into the future,” said Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.
Coming out of the Great Recession, Wisconsin found itself in the position of having many people looking for work, lots of employers looking for workers and lots of world-class learning options available to train, certify, educate, and equip that workforce.
Our series set out to not only explain what has been dubbed “the skills gap,” but also to supply information about how to fill the gap.
The local reporting by teams of journalists across the 10 Gannett Wisconsin Media news sites showed how communities throughout the state rolled up their sleeves and collaborated to train workers, educate students, and grow businesses.
In a survey of readers, 80% indicated they were following the bi-weekly and quarterly stories, which covered industries ranging from manufacturing to agriculture to professional services and IT.
Readers also indicated that the content delivered was highly relevant and that they sought out specific topics such as stories about local employers, the economic impact of local businesses as well as information about training and/or certifications.
“Being able to connect our readers to the business community in a meaningful way, has been a major cornerstone of this project,” said Pam Henson, Gannett Wisconsin Media regional president. “We’re proud to have been able to leverage the power of our 10 newspapers, which is the largest newsroom in Wisconsin, to deliver such an impactful series.”
The next phase for “State of Opportunity” is well underway to continue to close the gap between employer needs and those seeking career opportunities.