Business, Education, Community Leaders Look for Solutions to Anticipated Worker Shortage

June 01, 2018 12:39 PM

There is a critical shortage of skilled workers in the Twin Cities region, according to Achieve Mpls. The organization sat down with education, business and community leaders for a panel discussion addressing the issue Friday morning.


By 2020, the region will see a shortfall of more than 60,000 workers, according to Achieve Mpls, and over the next decade there will be about 500,000 jobs waiting to be filled. Achieve Mpls said their data was compiled by Minnesota Compass.

RELATED: Survey Report Suggests Midwest Economy Still Steaming Ahead

Achieve Mpls CEO Danielle Grant said the conversation around education needs to change. 

"We spent 20 years telling every student they need to get a four-year degree," she said. "What we really need to be focusing on now is the whole spectrum of jobs that are available now and there's a lot of jobs out there that require some kind of post-secondary but not four years."

Grant assembled the first Bridging the Gap Breakfast to hear other experts weigh in on other solutions.

RELATED: US Gains 223K Jobs; Unemployment at 18-Year Low of 3.8 Percent

President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Neel Kashkari gave the keynote address. He said there needs to be conversations about why there isn’t higher wage growth, whether the charter school system is operating in the best interests of students, and whether policies like reducing background checks and drug tests have benefited employees as intended.

Shawntera Hardy, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner, also said the mindset surrounding the way communities of color are regarded needs to change.

According to Achieve Mpls, people of color have a 25 percent higher poverty rate and lower graduation rates than white communities.

She said they also need to consider whether job training programs statewide reflect the jobs available.

Cecilia Saddler, the Minneapolis Public Schools Deputy Chief of Academics, Leadership and Learning, said the gap is related to the message students are receiving.

"We talk in traditional ways, 'Are you going to be a doctor? A lawyer? A teacher?' But we also don't talk about some of the other needs that we have," said Saddler. "The students might not be aware there's a work shortage and they actually have talents and skills to do [those jobs]."

She said they need to develop better "wrap-around support," like job shadowing, mentorships and family involvement. Saddler believes internships and workforce experience needs to be built into the curriculum.


Callan Gray

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