Minnesota School of Business representatives, Diana Igo, Dave Erickson, and Meghan Hathaway, recently listened to a panel of area economic experts discuss the major workforce development issues affecting the Twin Cities north metro area and the rest of the state. The event was held at Tournament Players Club in Blaine during the 3M Championship, coordinated by the Metro North Chamber of Commerce.
The panelists included Steve Hine, Director of DEED’s Labor Market Information office; Jeffrey McGonigal, Associate Superintendent for Anoka Hennepin District #11; and Jamie Barthel, Executive Director of Professional Workforce Training Department for Anoka
Technical College & Anoka Ramsey Community College. They each shared their thoughts on what is being done to prepare students for the workforce.
Hine reported that the state had regained approximately 160,000 jobs over the last three years that were lost in the downturn since 2008, but that the state’s 5.6 percent unemployment rate, and especially the high rate among 2010 college graduates, is still a problem needing solutions.
Some positive signs noted by the speakers include increased private job postings by employers, a possible bottoming out of housing prices, opportunities in construction and management, and the addition of 1500 jobs or more per month in Minnesota.
It was mentioned that more technically-skilled workers, especially machinists and welders, are needed and some employers said they are looking for youth apprenticeship programs to provide this. In addition, degree-seeking young adults with improved skills in reading and math are also needed to fill a depleted workforce pipeline.
One conclusion reached by the group is that graduating from high school is not an end in itself but a launching pad for students to continue on to college to gain critical-thinking and communication skills, and find technical training programs somewhere in the greater business environment.