Washington County employers, we understand the challenges you are facing as you deal with the retirement of your Baby Boom Generation employees and support continuing business growth. Unemployment rates are some of the lowest we’ve seen in years and it feels like we’re all competing for the same resources.

The Workforce Alliance was formed to help students at all grade levels understand the many and varied career opportunities that exist here in Washington County. We want to help students and parents understand all of the job and educational resources available, see how the two are related and then make the very important decisions related to what comes next after high school graduation. We’ve been able to bring employers, both large and small, together with school districts (Hartford, Kewaskum, Slinger and West Bend), colleges and universities (MPTC and UW-WC) to provide students and their parents with resources to sort through all of the options and make the best decisions for their futures. Our goal is to keep a high percentage of our best and brightest students here in Washington County and employed in meaningful jobs at family sustaining wages.

We’ve worked with employers to define critical skills needed in the workplace and collaborated with educators at all levels to insure that those skills are incorporated into the curriculum our students are taught. We’ll also be working to develop stronger Apprenticeship, Internship and Co-op programs to provide students with real world workplace experiences.


Coming in 2017

Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, all public school students in K-12 and union school districts in Wisconsin will be required to develop an Academic and Career Plan (ACP). Typically, this will be initially developed in Middle School with ongoing updates until high school graduation. This will help students and parents make appropriate course selections in support of the students future goals. The state of Wisconsin will be making software tools available to school districts at no charge to help everyone involved in the process receive the desired benefits of the ACP process.  Employers will be able to create profiles of their companies, describing what they do and the types of jobs/careers they support. Students will have an opportunity to communicate with employees that you designate to learn more about those jobs/careers and potentially make a visit for a tour and possibly some job shadowing to help them make good choices regarding their future. The Workforce Alliance will be collaborating with United Way of Washington County to provide a key piece of supporting infrastructure called INSPIRE that will allow students in any school district to communicate with employers in any part of the county. Watch for further updates on this exciting development!

The West Bend School District met with employer representatives to better understand hiring issues. The information they gathered follows here for your review. This same information is available on our Student and Parent pages so that they can fully understand key hiring criteria and how they can prepare themselves for success.



From a focus group of Washington County employers, representing firms with nearly 5,500 employees:

  • 58% of employers surveyed indicated they plan to expand in the next three years (2015-2018) and hire additional employees.
  • 29% indicated that new employees do not fulfill necessary requirements in entry level positions.
  • 30% indicated that entry level applicants struggle with basic skills, such as locating information, reading for information, and applied math and writing.
  • 43% indicated that entry level applicants lack “hard” (technical) skills.
  • 46% indicated that entry level applicants lack “soft” skills (habits and personality).
  • 78% indicated they have rejected applicants because of background checks.
  • 87% indicated they have rejected professional level applicants because of background checks.
  • 85% indicated they have rejected applicants because they could not pass controlled substance testing.


Nationally, 66% of high school graduates enter post-secondary education– a university or technical college.

Of that number, only 25% graduate with a four year degree.

50% of graduates are under-employed– they are not working in a job related to their degree.

“Employers will want to know what you can do and do well and not what degree or diploma is hanging on your wall.”

A study done by the West Bend School District shows that we are aligned with national trends. They found that 62% of their graduates enter post-secondary education, and of that group, only 30% attain a four year degree.

The video on this page is offered to help us all understand the important factors that must be considered when deciding whether to attend a university and seek a four year degree or to consider other options to prepare for success in the workplace.

Dirty Jobs YouTube play