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Construct Tomorrow shares hands-on construction experiences with students

With the worker shortage problem expected to explode from the current 60,000 unfilled jobs to as many as 280,000 by the end of 2022, sufficient improvements to Minnesota’s talent development pipeline are a must. Baby Boomers with in-demand technical skills are retiring, and few young people have the skills or interest to take their places. But efforts are underway through the Construct Tomorrow program to solve our state’s workforce crisis and get students excited about a future in building and construction trades....

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Rush City’s Dennis Frandsen offers free college for his hometown’s high school seniors

As Minnesota grapples with an increasingly urgent workforce skills gap, stories like Minnesota banker Dennis Frandsen’s offer inspiration. Frandsen—whose business holdings include banks and manufacturing companies that employ 1,000 people in four states—recently offered to award the entire senior class at Rush City High School with two years of free college at Pine Technical and Community College....

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The Frequent Fright of Student Debt

When students take out, say, $30,000 in loans, do they think that’s all they’re obliged to pay back?  Or do they properly factor in interest and realize they will wind up paying $40,000, give or take?  As I wrote recently, I have no proof, but my guess is most students, in the excitement and/or fear of it all, somehow overlook the reality of interest and focus on the smaller number. ...

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Skills Wanted: Companies focus on what workers can do, not what degree they hold

The supply of and demand for middle-skill workers has created a mismatch in our labor market. The “skills gap” is real, and employers are coming up with their own solutions to combat the talent shortage. According to The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “More Companies Teach Workers What Colleges Don’t,” these solutions include focusing less on four-year degrees and more on skills that workers have or can learn. [Photo Credit: The Markle Foundation]...

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State Initiatives Work to Eliminate Lingering Stigma of “Vocational” Education

The push for all high school graduates to earn a four-year baccalaureate degree over other post-secondary pathways has resulted in employers struggling to find workers with in-demand technical skills. Vocational education—now more commonly referred to as career and technical education (CTE)—has an image problem, and students (and parents) are skeptical about the workforce value of a two-year degree or credential. But efforts are underway to change public perceptions about these programs and eliminate the lingering stigma that middle-skills jobs are second-class options....

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Does Our National Conversation about College Debt Adequately Take Interest into Account?

Question.  When it’s written or said that a person has taken out, say, $30,000 in student loans, is it usually assumed that $30,000 is the total to be paid back, with interest already factored in?  Or is interest generally not yet accounted for, meaning the borrower is on the hook for measurably more than $30,000?  I may be wrong, but after reading a lot about student loans for Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree, my sense is that most references to student loan debt ignore the reality of interest, thus underplaying how difficult paying back loans may be. ...

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Community and Technical Colleges Tweak Programs to Meet Labor Demand

How do community and technical colleges decide what programs to offer to meet the labor market’s needs most effectively? Two college presidents recently offered their insights in MinnPost. Rich Wagner, Dunwoody College of Technology president, and Rassoul Dastmozd, St. Paul College president, both say that their institutions have strong connections with public schools, employers, and community partners. But they also watch the labor market closely themselves and tweak their programs to prepare students for the jobs of the future....

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