Written by Dave Wegge

The Bay Area Community Council (BACC) is currently conducting research to assess how community leaders perceive the BACC and to identify key issues facing the greater Green Bay area. 

Community leaders participating in several BACC discussion groups identify two major challenges facing the future of our community: 1) workforce development and 2) the growing diversity of our population.  The BACC also conducted a survey of community leaders in business, nonprofits, government, and education. Among other things, the survey asked leaders how much of a factor a series of challenges will be in shaping the future of the greater Green Bay area and how well prepared we are in meeting these challenges.   The insights from the discussion groups and the survey demonstrate consensus on these two challenges. 

Over three-fourths (76 percent) of the community leaders concurred that attracting a workforce with needed skills is a major factor in shaping the future of the greater Green Bay area. At the same time, 67 percent say educating and training diverse populations to meet our workforce needs and 69 percent say being more welcoming to diverse populations are both major factors in shaping our future.  

Leaders were then asked how well prepared we are to meet these challenges: 33 percent say we are moderately or very well prepared as a community to meet the challenge of attracting a workforce with needed skills and 28 percent say we are moderately or very well prepared to educate and train diverse populations to meet workforce needs. These findings suggest we have some significant challenges ahead and may not be fully prepared to address them.

Is there an opportunity starring us in the face that can help meet the workforce needs and enhance the role of diversity in our community? 

The greater Green Bay area is seeing a significant growth in diverse population groups and that is likely to continue for quite some time. At the same time, we know that there are many business and nonprofit organizations that are unable to meet their workforce needs. How can we connect the dots on these trends and create a future in which both challenges are successfully met?

First, we need to address a few basic questions: 1) What jobs will make up the future workforce in the greater Green Bay area? 2) What skill sets will be needed to fill those jobs? and 3) How has COVID 19 impacted workforce trends? 

Once we have a picture of the future workforce, then we can address the next set of questions: 1) How can we recruit and train the growing diverse population groups in the Green Bay area in developing these needed skill sets? and 2) What role do our educational systems from K-12 to higher education play in achieving the workforce of the future for the greater Green Bay area?

The greater Green Bay area is fortunate to have several strong public and private school systems providing a quality educational base for our K-12 students. In addition, we have three unique and strong institutions of higher education, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, St. Norbert College, and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Each of these educational systems may have a unique role to play in providing education and training to meet the future workforce needs of the greater Green Bay area. 

What role can these institutions play to help meet our workforce and diversity challenges moving forward? How can the full breadth of our educational system take advantage of this opportunity to bring together the workforce needs and our challenges of diversity? The answers to these questions will put the greater Green Bay area on the track to meeting our workforce needs and enhancing our diverse population.