Posted: March 21, 2012

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@MinnState.edu, 651-201-1426

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced today a joint “Workforce Assessment” initiative to address the state’s growing skills gap. The Workforce Assessment will begin in April and engage Minnesota companies in developing precise projections of how many workers and professionals, with what kinds of skills, will be needed in which regions of the state, for what kinds of jobs.

More than 40 listening sessions throughout the state are planned with Minnesota employers to gain a better understanding of their current and future workforce needs.

The data gathered from the Workforce Assessment sessions will be used by MnSCU to align its certificates and degrees, worker retraining and customized training programs with the needs of Minnesota business and industry.

Industry sectors included in the initial assessment beginning in April include:

  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering
  • Energy
  • Transportation

Workforce Assessment sessions for the agriculture sector are planned for June and July. Sessions for additional sectors, including financial services and insurance and others, are being planned for this fall.

Business and industry representatives are encouraged to register for one of the Workforce Assessment sessions. There is no cost to attend the meetings.

Local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, the Minnesota Initiatives foundations and other groups are participating with MnSCU, DEED and the Minnesota Chamber in this coordinated effort.

“Minnesota has an immediate and growing skills gap that constrains the state’s economic growth, increases unemployment and limits opportunities for both businesses and individuals,” said Mark Phillips, commissioner, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “Minnesota businesses’ need for skilled and credentialed workers is greater than all but one other state and the District of Columbia. By 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in the state will require some postsecondary education beyond high school.”

“Companies across Minnesota indicate that while many good jobs are available, there is a shortage of people with the needed skills and education to do these jobs,” said David Olson, president, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “We are pleased to be working with MnSCU and DEED to determine what skills employers are looking for so they can align their curriculum and programs to better meet those needs. Minnesota has a huge opportunity to become ‘the skilled workforce state’ and these listening sessions are an important first step. Assuming we are successful, this approach will ensure that Minnesota businesses have the workforce they need for today’s jobs and the jobs of the future.”

“By listening to Minnesota employers, we can obtain a greater, much more precise understanding of the state’s workforce needs,” said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “Armed with this data, we can ensure that higher education is delivering the right academic programs and preparing graduates with the skills necessary for the success of Minnesota’s businesses and communities. By doing so, we will help more Minnesotans find fulfilling careers while at the same time helping to secure the state’s economic prosperity.”

A separate but coordinated initiative will result in regional strategies to align resources, increase access to training opportunities and develop effective statewide public policy. Skills@Work, an effort by the Governor’s Workforce Development Council and Greater Twin Cities United Way, is leading the regional strategies initiative. Skills@Work will initiate a series of regional planning meetings beginning in May that will result in unified regional strategies to focus private, public and non-profit resources on closing regional skills gaps and recommending necessary public policy updates.