Wisconsin Trains Workers for In Demand Jobs

In tough economic times, one approach to training for in demand positions.

Oct. 9, 2008— -- In the final weeks of the presidential race, "World News with Charles Gibson" is hitting the road to report from five cities in closely contested states across the Midwest for the "Great American Battleground Bus Tour."

In Racine, Wisconsin, as we found in other midwestern cities, the major industry is and has always has been manufacturing.

As we have found all week on this tour,it is a lousy time for manufacturing. Racine has struggled with high unemployment -- the highest in the state and 9.6 percent over the past five years.

"A strong back and willingness to work is not longer enough to have a middle class life which it used to be," said Racine Mayor Gary Becker.

There is high unemployment in Racine, but there are also lots of jobs. A thousand positions were posted just this week for skilled workers. So "World News" visited Gateway Technical College to see a county program where workers get 16 weeks of training for jobs in high demand.

"I decided that maybe its best to get some more to upgrade my skills in factory work so I could find a good paying job around the area here," said Joe Lori, a recently laid off single father.

David Lindas lost his job last year, and says this program changed his opinion of his home town.

"I wasn't really that big a fan up until now because it's hard to get a steady job in the Racine area," Lindas said. W"hen I got home from graduation [at Gateway] I had two messages on my machine for job interviews. So I was working about a week and a half after I graduated."

Of 100 recent graduates of the program, 95 are now employed.