Post Bulletin: Shortage of workers could stunt growth
Brian Todd, Apr 3, 2017
Read the full story at postbulletin.com
An aging population is the antithesis of what's needed to bolster a booming regional economy. Unfortunately, that's exactly where Southeast Minnesota's workforce is heading, as the region is poised for DMC-related growth.
"Aging Baby Boomers are retiring, and we're having a tough time keeping up," said Mark Schultz, regional labor market analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The answer, said Jennifer Olson, director of Continuing Education and Customized Training at Minnesota State College Southeast, is to educate people for the jobs that are needed. With Winona and Red Wing both being manufacturing centers, the college with campuses in both cities is working to meet the needs of employers through a combination of credit classes, continuing education and customized training.
"We recently put together a training on diesel maintenance after area businesses and industries requested instruction in diesel maintenance for their employees," she said. "We have to be quick and responsive to the all the industries we serve by providing effective training that will help them stay productive and current with changing technology."
While health care is one of the main areas of growth MSCS sees, Olson said, there are plenty of technical careers where employers are looking for training. And the technical college is doing what it can to meet employers' needs.
A great example, Olson said, is the work it has done with Kwik Trip.
"With the incredible growth Kwik Trip has seen, they need drivers to take products to their stores," she said. "We have trained over 40 employees from Kwik Trip to get their CDL Class A license. Our relationship with Kwik Trip is a great example of how we provide education for employment."
The college also has been working with Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education and the Workforce Center to get individuals to its Red Wing campus for evening welding classes.
"We worked with local businesses to create the curriculum," she said. "Our students have taken tours of facilities where welding jobs are available."
One of MSCS's goals is to be involved with strengthening the workforce in Southeast Minnesota and keeping jobs, students and talent local, Olson said. "Our partnerships with DEED, chambers of commerce, local governments, businesses and non-profit organizations help us understand what the needs are and come to the table with solutions on ways we can help and all work together," she said.
Travis Thul, dean of trade and technology at MSCS, said students often are looking at options that include two of the three job training components: quick, inexpensive and good. With jobs waiting for many of its degrees or training courses, the school offers students all three.
"I see our position here as one of the most important cogs in getting our populace trained and out there with these skill sets," said Travis Thul, dean of trade and technology at Minnesota State College Southeast. "Where else can you go and in 12 months get the skills to start a job that will build your career for years to come?"