Wisconsin’s economy lies in the hands of entrepreneurial graduates


Students in Wisconsin towns such as Kenosha and Racine could have a pivotal role to play in the future of the state, according to statistics released in a new report.

Last week, it was revealed by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance that the state experienced a below-average job growth rate. The nation recorded job growth of 2.8% throughout the past two years; however, Wisconsin lagged behind with just 2.3%. The statistics showed that since 1996, Wisconsin has matched or excelled the national average job growth rate just 27% of the time. This is attributed to the state’s aging population and shortage of start-up companies.

The picture painted by the report is a far cry from the situation in the late eighties and early nineties, when Wisconsin enjoyed an abundance of available jobs and healthy prospects for growth.

A need for entrepreneurialism

For those studying towards a degree, the figures from this report could easily be taken as disheartening – even worrying. The number of available jobs in America has certainly fallen since the collapse of the banks back in 2008, and graduate finances have looked increasingly grim. Prospects for graduates have dwindled and the concept of saving for a prosperous future has been much harder to grasp. However, Wisconsin students need not fret; the report comes with many silver linings. On the positive side, the Taxpayers Alliance’s report has suggested the future of the economy in Wisconsin lies in the hands of graduates and entrepreneurs. Although Wisconsin was found to be the second-worst in the country (ahead of only Iowa) for its percentage of start-up companies, there was a bright side to the story: Wisconsin was found to have an extremely high success rate for those that did decide to start their own businesses – perhaps due to the reasonable financial stability the area offers.

The report identified an opportunity for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to take control of Wisconsin’s economy and shape the future for job creation; after all, entrepreneurship can lead to job growth. Innovation within a stale market is often what is needed to spearhead the economy into a boom. For those thinking of starting their own business after finishing university, Wisconsin’s track record of start-ups is a confidence booster; 45% of companies started in 1997 are still in business today. That’s a far better success rate than the national average of just 34%.

Opportunity for manufacturing and business service professionals

There is also positive news for manufacturing and business graduates; these are the industries that have been identified as showing a healthy growth in Wisconsin. These typically high paying sectors are experiencing a shortage of skilled professionals and are looking to graduates to help fill these gaps.

The report found that, while Wisconsin’s job growth rate was low on a whole, this slow growth was being linked mainly to lower paying non-graduate jobs in sectors such as retail and leisure. Demand for service jobs – for example those in hotels and restaurants – was slowing. However, growth in the higher paid sectors was actually very positive.

Investing in the state’s education system

The president of the Taxpayers Alliance, Todd Berry, warned that more needed to be done to attract graduates to the state, and to encourage the state’s own graduates to stay put. He said that the state’s authorities have been quick to pass the blame over the employment situation, when what really needs to be done is to improve education and training. He recommends investing in Wisconsin’s educational establishments; universities such as Wisconsin-Parkside could benefit from more input from career advisors on the opportunities available in the state. Berry also called for more funding and resources to be allocated to universities and colleges. “The state needs to figure out how to retain its young people, educate workers through apprenticeships and other measures, keep tuitions competitive, and strengthen Internet infrastructure across Wisconsin,” he said.

Retaining the young, educating the working

The main thing to take away from this report is that the negative situation portrayed presents a wealth of opportunity for graduates. With the future of the state’s economy resting with young people, graduates from universities such as Wisconsin-Parkside have an important role to play. For those entrepreneurial manufacturing and business services specialists, Wisconsin could hold the foundations for a long-term and successful career.

Article contributed by Eve Pearce

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