Solving the Workforce Puzzle « Back to Search Results

By Site Selection Magazine

In the January 2015 issue of Site Selection, we asked the top workforce development directors in the 12-state Midwest region to answer four basic questions about workforce challenges and how they were tackling them. The questions were:

What is your state’s biggest challenge in workforce development?
How is your state working to overcome that challenge?
What is your state’s ace in the hole, or most strategic advantage, with respect to workforce development?
What plans are in place to improve your state’s workforce/talent development resources in 2015?

This year, we went back to those directors, or in some cases their successors, to find out how they would answer any of our questions differently. The answers we received were surprisingly candid — in some cases owning up to substantial shortcomings now being addressed.

“Many troubling economic disparities face Minnesotans of color, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report. For example, the median income for African-American Minnesotans fell by 14 percent in a single year. The poverty rate for African-American Minnesotans rose, and Minnesota currently ranks 45th in the U.S. in median African-American household income.

"These figures are going in the wrong direction, which is why we took immediate action to focus on employment disparities in a number of new ways, including the creation of an Office of Career and Business Opportunity. This new office will diversify the state’s workforce by helping workers in communities of color access training and resources for good jobs; providing access to resources and opportunities to minority- and women-owned businesses; and helping the business community develop and adopt hiring and contracting practices that expand opportunities for minority workers and businesses.

"This will dovetail with the state’s existing workforce development programs. In 2014, the DEED served over 204,000 people at statewide WorkForce Centers — and nearly 30 percent were from communities of color. Through our Low Income Worker Training Program, over $2.6 million is being used to train more than 1,300 low-income individuals to help them acquire higher-paying jobs. In addition, Minnesota’s FastTRAC program provided training for more than 1,200 workers last year. This program helps adults with educational barriers prepare for careers in high-demand fields such as health care, manufacturing and transportation. To increase the hiring of Minnesotans with disabilities, state agencies are working toward a goal — set by the governor’s executive order — of 7 percent employment of people with disabilities by all state agencies by 2018.”

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