Posted: September 13, 2012

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

Launch Marks Continuation of Initiative to Address State’s Job Skills Gap

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will host a listening session in northeast Minnesota to better understand current and future workforce needs in natural resources, an industry sector critical to the region’s economic vitality.

The session will be held Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. - noon at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in Biwabik. The session will focus on occupations in mining; forestry, logging, and paper and pulp; and land and water resources.

“The natural resources sector plays an essential role in the success and prosperity of our state,” said MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “By listening to employers, we can obtain a much better understanding of their needs and ensure that higher education is delivering the right academic programs. The input received at this session will help us to better prepare graduates with the skills necessary for the future success of Minnesota’s natural resources economy.”

This listening session continues a statewide “Workforce Assessment” initiative launched last spring to address the state’s skills gap. The initiative is designed to 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, and for what kinds of jobs. Minnesota’s need for an educated workforce 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. This skills gap constrains the state’s economic growth, increases unemployment and limits opportunities for both businesses and individuals.

To date, 49 sessions have been held addressing workforce needs in seven industry sectors: energy, engineering, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, transportation and agriculture. Sessions addressing workforce needs in the financial services are being planned for November. Data gathered from the sessions will be used by the state colleges and universities to better align the certificate and degree programs, and worker retraining and customized training programs with the needs of Minnesota business and industry.

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