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Companies deal with pressure to raise wages in Minneapolis

On January 2, Minnesota was featured in a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Sluggish Wages See Uptick.” The article described how—in today’s tight labor market—companies like Ultra Machining in Plymouth, Generations Hardwood Flooring in New Brighton and Kurt Manufacturing Co. in Minneapolis are dealing with pressure to raise wages....

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A View on Higher Ed: Results show 2-year degree holders often outearn college-educated peers

This commentary originally appeared December 12, 2017 in the Duluth News Tribune. It’s common wisdom in our society that you’ve got to have a four-year college degree to get ahead. If you don’t, you’re doomed to second-best in life, the thinking goes. This stereotype is based, to a good extent, on the belief that people with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make a lot more money over a lifetime than their peers. They’re sure to have nicer homes, fancier cars, more exotic vacations, and a bigger nest egg for retirement. Right? A new study from the Twin Cities-based Center of the American...

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“Legacy Minnesota” Program Prepares High Schoolers for Careers in Energy Industry

The need for skilled workers in Minnesota is on the rise. Many companies are struggling to find diverse, qualified candidates who have the right knowledge and skills to enter critical workforce positions. As a result, industries are facing significant workforce shortages and are seeing a growing skills gap in their applicants. But an initiative called Legacy Minnesota wants to turn this trend around in the state’s energy industry by preparing underserved high school juniors and seniors from diverse backgrounds in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools to become the future employees that energy companies are looking for....

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How does Deed Determine Effectiveness of Workforce Training Programs?

If Minnesota is to solve its looming workforce talent shortfall, the state’s employers will have to explore new talent pools and push for a higher workforce participation rate. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) runs or provides funding for more than 70 employment training and placement programs that assist in these efforts. For the 2018 fiscal year, DEED has allocated more than $169 million for these programs, according to a recent MinnPost article. But, as the article notes, “not all these programs, or their outcomes, are equal, which brings up an obvious question: How does DEED measure the programs’...

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Minnesota High Schools are tackling our state’s “skills gap” crisis head-on

Good news on Minnesota’s workforce development crisis: Innovative high schools are setting the stage for a revolution in career education. A recent Star Tribune article surveyed this burgeoning movement. “The race is on to help students more quickly figure out their interests and aptitudes and then get them trained,” according to the article. The Star Tribune highlighted Burnsville High School’s remarkable Pathways program, which it described as one of Minnesota’s most “comprehensive efforts to prepare students for the work world.” The program is funded by a $65 million voter-approved referendum, passed in 2015, and an annual technology levy of $2.5 million. According...

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CAREERCODE: A revolutionary new tool to overcome Minnesota’s “skills mismatch” challenge

A major factor in our state’s workforce development crisis is a mismatch between the skills workers have and those required by in-demand jobs. But there’s good news: A vocational exploration tool called CAREERCODE can help people at all stages find the occupation and career path best suited to their interests. ...

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Learning and Doing Math Vocationally

A frequent theme in the many interviews I’ve conducted over the last year, as well as in much of the reading I’ve done for American Experiment’s “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project, has been the importance of people in manufacturing, the trades, and other fields having a reasonably solid grounding in math. ...

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Skills Matter More Than Type of Degree

(Photo Credit: The Markle Foundation) A new report from Center of the American Experiment reveals that there’s “gold in a two-year degree.” The study found that young Minnesotans who choose a variety of non-four-year career pathways—in skilled manufacturing, health care, construction-related occupations, etc.—can often earn more in a lifetime than their peers with a four-year degree. Now a new study from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, D.C., confirms this is true across the nation. ...

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The Increasingly Powerful Role of Student Debt in Shaping Careers and Lives

I don’t need to be convinced that community colleges are vital, as I started off in one.  To be precise, it was an auxiliary program of a community college with the rhythmic name “City University College Center at New York City Community College.”  How I luckily wound up there is a story for another day. As for an important story today about the value of these two-year institutions, my sense is that many young people and their parents are looking more closely at them for a variety of good reasons, very much including how their students are likely to accrue much...

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