Dee DePass has been a Star Tribune business reporter since 1993, covering small business, financial institutions, manufacturing and, most recently, the economy. Originally from New York, Dee came to Minnesota after earning her master's in journalism at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate degree at Vassar College.

MNSCU, Chamber and DEED to assess skills needed and skills gap

Posted by: Dee DePass under Training Updated: March 23, 2012 - 4:32 PM

The state of Minnesota wants to peek inside your company. By measuring what employers really need, Minnesota hopes to plug the skills gap that is leaving factories and engineering firms with job openings and few qualified candidates.

The joint “Workforce Assessment” initiative was launched this week by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU), the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

The statewide project will start in April and should result in "precise projections of Minnesota’s workforce needs," state officials said. DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips estimates that 70 percent of all jobs in the state will require some type of  education beyond high school by 2018.

As part of the assessment, employers will be asked to attend some of the 40 meetings being arranged by industry sector and geography. The first round of sectors to be studied include healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, engineering, energy, and transportation.

For example, organizers want to know how many line workers employers in these industries need; how many professionals, and what skills are needed for which jobs? Participating firms are expected to describe what skills they need for specific types of jobs.

More than 40 listening sessions throughout the state are planned, state officials said in a statement that announced the effort.
MNSCU will use the data gathered from the sessions to create or improve certificate and degree programs, worker retraining workshops, and customized training programs.

Workforce Assessment sessions for the agriculture sector are planned for June and July. Sessions for financial services and insurance and other sectors, are planned for this fall.

Business and industry representatives can register for workforce assessment sessions by visiting http://mnworkforceneeds.eventbrite.com.

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