MnSCU asks what companies need

Minnesota State system moves toward including more job training.

by Candice Wheeler

With jobs on the rise in Minnesota, employers are connecting with educators to resolve the state’s growing skills gap.

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have announced a “Workforce Assessment” initiative designed to encourage post-secondary education for Minnesotans. The initiative will allow educators to hear straight from companies in Minnesota’s job market what kind of skills will be required of prospective employees. By 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require some post-secondary education beyond high school.

MnSCU hopes to obtain a greater understanding of the state’s workforce needs and fill the gap between those with college degrees and high school diplomas. Jobs need to be filled — Minnesota has added 32,300 jobs in the last three months and overall has recovered more than half of the jobs lost during the recession.

The WAI will essentially provide information that will help students make informed decisions about their major and career paths and will help both educators and employers better understand how to work together to better prepare students for their futures.

“This is an assessment initiative, consisting of conversations between MnSCU and employers, not a revamping of our educational structure,” Career Development Specialist Diane Wolter at MSU-Moorhead said. “The goal is to understand and articulate needs.”

Training programs are part of MnSCU’s role, whereas the University of Minnesota system focuses more on broad-based education. MnSCU should be wary of too much direct curriculum influence by specific companies, but overall, the program should serve students looking for employment.

I think an initiative of this kind will be well received. As long as the big suits don’t turn education into strict niche job training, a heads up to what my future boss will be looking for would be beneficial.


Candice Wheeler welcomes comments at [email protected].