Talent Dividend Work

Talent as a focal point for economic growth

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When Scott Jansen of the Greater Milwaukee Committee explains his city's Talent Dividend efforts, he uses an analogy about bookends. 

"The bookend on the left is where kids are at in their K-12 education," Jansen says. "Part of our strategic mission is explaining to parents and children the importance of career pathways." 

A program called My Life! My Plan!, sponsored by Milwaukee Talent Dividend, helps students in learning about emerging career clusters so students have a sense of where jobs will be when they're graduating and how to prepare for them. At workshops and during freshman orientations, students meet with career counselors who help them complete a career assessment, use career exploration tools offered by the state of Wisconsin, and understand their options for pursuing postsecondary education. 

The program encourages high school students to pursue and prepare for higher education. It also helps Milwaukee fill the talent pipeline and meet workforce needs.

Milwaukee's Talent Dividend Initiative is being recognized as "not just a thought leader, but a convener" -- a force for bringing together over 150 groups from businesses, state and local government, higher education, and economic development into a "network of networks" for powering growth in the region. 
"As people are starting to understand what the Talent Dividend Initiative is really about, and who's collaborating with us, they see how much value we can bring," Jansen says. "Week after week, something pops." 
So that's the other bookend: Giving regional economic development leaders a better picture of the talent pipeline, and playing at the policy level to spur investment in Milwaukee's talent efforts. 

Wisconsin's Secretary of Workforce Development, for instance, has embraced Milwaukee Talent Dividend as a way to lower the unemployment rate among the state's minority populations and is promoting parental engagement in postsecondary education in Milwaukee's low-income minority communities.

And during Milwaukee's first-ever Innovation Week, held June 6 - 11, Milwaukee gave venture capital firms from all over the country a glimpse of what's being done to nurture the city's talent pool in design, technology and innovation. 

"We've moved way beyond the 1% [point]," Jansen says. "The message is resonating. Talent has become a single focus point for bringing collaborative power and thought leadership to different issues in our region."

Source: Scott Jansen, Greater Milwaukee Committee
Writer: Amy Elliott Bragg
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