Duo Introduces ‘Wisconsin Wins’ Jobs Program

MacIver News Service | December 7, 2011

[Madison, Wisc…] Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) introduced new legislation on Tuesday, which they call the “Wisconsin Wins’ Jobs Program.”

Under their plan, employers would be able to bring on new workers for a 20-hour a week, six-week trial period. During that time the employer would be able to train the worker, and the employee would be able to demonstrate their work ethic and abilities.

“We must be open to innovative solutions to get people back to work,” Honadel said.  “This legislation will insert job seekers directly into the workplace to get the skills they need to acquire full time jobs.”

The employer would not be paying the worker during this trial period.  Instead the state would continue paying them their unemployment insurance benefits.  At the end of the six week period, the employer could choose whether or not to hire the person on full-time.

The duo note many businesses are reluctant to undertake the expense of training new employees because of the risk involved if they don’t work out.  Also, many workers, who have been on unemployment for going on two years, lack the skills needed to be successful, many employers say.

For unemployed workers, there is the risk of giving up their unemployment benefits for a job that may or may not work out.

Over the summer, the MacIver News Service was presented a similar idea by Bob Borremans, Executive Director of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board.  Borremans said his board had conducted a study on the cost of unemployment versus the cost of labor.  It found the state could, theoretically, offer people a substantial wage for the exact same amount it currently spends in unemployment benefits.

“The term is now transitional jobs; and I believe it really does benefit the employer and the employee, particularly now when we’re seeing so many people who don’t have the basic skills needed to take a job,” Borremans said. “So the employer is going to be taking a risk, so why not use some type of an incentive that would encourage them to make a hire, and give the person an opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency over some period of time.”

At that time, Borremans lamented that with Congress debating the debt limit and the Stimulus failing to deliver impressive results, there would be a lack of political will to launch such an effort.

With Wisconsin gripped by recall elections and vicious partisan politics, it remains to be seen if such political will exists now.  However, Honadel and Wanggaard believe it’s time to give it a try.

“The way to rebound our state economy is to jump-start private-sector hiring,” Wanggaard said.  “The Wisconsin Wins plan does just that by providing incentives for both job seekers and job creators.”