A private sector, pro-active approach to better synchronize workforce skills with the needs of the changing economy
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce launched Business Education Networks to narrow the workforce skills gap by better connecting employers with high school and college students, and with higher education and workforce training systems. Our goal is to ensure that businesses have ready access to highly skilled workers they want to employ, and to make certain that students from all backgrounds complete degree and certificate programs in areas where they will have meaningful employment opportunities. Finding qualified workers is essential to make Minnesota ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.
Engaging employers will be key to our success. Business Education Networks will:
- Connect businesses and local chambers of commerce with students, education systems and workforce training programs so workforce needs are clearly and regularly articulated. As a result, these programs will be more closely aligned with the changing needs of the economy.
- Assist employers in accessing and navigating internship, mentorship and on-the-job training programs to meet their distinctive needs.
We have chosen to kick off the Business Education Networks in partnership with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. Winona has 100‐plus manufacturers, many in need of workers. Early efforts there will include:
- “Hot Jobs, Cool Companies,” a manufacturing and jobs outlook directory of every manufacturing and technology company in the Winona area, listing opportunities and required skills. The directory will be used by the Winona State University School of Business, Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical and area high schools.
- Career Exploration Expo, where high school students are introduced to trade and educational paths in all industries where there is a high demand for jobs in the region.
- Video ad campaign and radio ads featuring career opportunities in manufacturing.
PUBLIC PROBLEM, PRIVATE SOLUTION
The Minnesota Chamber regularly advances legislative solutions to address the state’s workforce needs. Business Education Networks is a private‐sector initiative to help solve a statewide problem. Employers cannot find sufficient numbers of qualified job applicants during both good and bad economic times.
Minnesota Waste Wise and Energy Smart, along with Grow Minnesota!(SM), are other examples of the Minnesota Chamber’s role as a private-sector problem-solver. The first two programs assist businesses in protecting natural resources while building their profits. Grow Minnesota! helps the state’s economy change and grow by providing one‐on‐one assistance to companies.
Two grants were instrumental in launching Business Education Networks – Bush Foundation ($300,000) and Carlson Family Foundation ($105,000). For more information, contact Ed McBride, Minnesota Chamber workforce grant manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.319.1462.