As finding employees became an increasing problem for Eau Claire businesses with the labor market tightening, the local chamber of commerce pondered ways to solve that.
But with the area’s many businesses ranging in size and in different sectors made it clear that connecting them with the right resources to address their workforce needs would take much more than providing some written advice.
“We need to bring people together, not just send out information,” said Scott Rogers, governmental affairs and workforce director at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce.
What arose from several months of research and organization is the chamber’s first-ever Workforce Solutions Summit, which will be Oct. 29 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence in downtown Eau Claire.
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., attendees will hear statistics about the area’s workforce, success stories at recruiting employees, different strategies that can be employed to find and retain workers, and announcements of several new initiatives intended to help attract more people to work in the Chippewa Valley.
The summit’s format has three general sessions in the center’s Jamf Theater and three breakout sessions with multiple sessions happening at the same time in different meeting rooms.
There are also two extended breaks planned where attendees are encouraged to visit with representatives from area educational institutions, agencies and organizations with services intended to help businesses that will be at tables in the building’s lobby.
The chamber wants attendees to end the day with plans on how to deal with their specific workforce challenges and connections with local resources that can help make that happen.
“Our biggest goal is to connect them with ideas depending on their situations,” Rogers said.
The chamber is going to provide about 130 ideas in a playbook the organization has put together of different strategies that businesses could use to improve their recruitment.
Those ideas range from long-term initiatives such as establishing an internship program with an area school, Rogers said, to smaller efforts including attending a one-day event like Manufacturing Day at Chippewa Valley Technical College.
While it is currently in the format of a directory, the chamber is working to make it an interactive online tool that businesses can use.
During the summit, the chamber also will unveil a new website— Think Eau Claire — a way to market the Chippewa Valley to prospective employees, highlighting the area’s amenities along with information on relocating here and job opportunities.
Based on the early registrations, Rogers said he’s anticipating attendance of between 100 and 200 people.
Unemployment has fallen in recent years — in Wisconsin the jobless rate sat at 3 percent last month — but the pool of available workers hasn’t been keeping up with job openings.
As the biggest business group in this area with 1,200 members, Rogers said the chamber had a duty to show ways they can fill their open jobs.
“If it’s their No. 1 issue, we have a responsibility as their organization to take it on,” he said.
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