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Business Education Network: Five years of transforming tomorrow's workforce

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Business education network workforce



Five years of transforming tomorrow's workforce

The Center for Workforce Solutions is the first-of-its kind in Minnesota, a business-led initiative to ensure employers and employees possess the necessary tools for jobs of the future. One of three priority areas for the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, it is complimented by our leadership programs, and the Center for Economic Research, which issued its first major report, Minnesota: 2030 in the spring of 2021. One of the major strategy recommendations of Minnesota: 2030 is leveraging Minnesotans – stressing the foundational imperatives to grow our workforce and help individuals develop the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.

The Center for Workforce Solutions builds on the success of the Business Education Network (BEN). In partnership with local chambers, these efforts are customized to the workforce needs of specific regions. Grassroots private sector efforts are met with the successful collaboration of K-12, higher education and community leaders to build sustainable, nimble pathways to local careers or higher education opportunities.

In addition to the local chamber partners highlighted in this summary, we know there are many other successful programs developed on the similar models across the state. We invite them to join with the Business Education Network to share their successes with others. We also know there are some communities just getting started. This summary provides a toolkit of resources to build an effective program.

Integrated into this work are efforts to ensure that employers statewide embrace all, and make inclusion a strength and priority. In addition, highlighting under resourced talent pools like veterans, workers of all abilities, retirees and others will compliment BEN efforts focused on the high school population.

The Minnesota Chamber Foundation is grateful for the generous investment by the Bush Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation to help get us started. Funding from U.S. Bank and Xcel Energy Foundation have helped us sustain and grow the Business Education Network.

We congratulate our partners on their hard work and creativity, and especially their persistence and focus during the pandemic. Our state’s workforce challenges will become more acute as we face growing labor shortages and higher demand for a skilled workforce. Our work is essential. It is imperative. We look forward to confronting this challenge in the years ahead.

Salute to our partners

These are not one-size-fits all solutions. These efforts are grassroots driven, and customized to the workforce needs of their community and region. They are led by the private sector in partnership with community and academic leaders, and partners in both K-12 and higher education. It’s hard work and depends on local commitment and sustainable financial support. The Foundation salutes these efforts and are eager to amplify this success across Minnesota. Over the past five years, the Minnesota Chamber Foundation has provided financial investment through grants to support to these programs.