A strong workforce equals a strong state

The key to Minnesota’s economic competitiveness, both nationwide and worldwide, is an educated, highly skilled workforce. It is estimated that by 2018, 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require education beyond high school. Minnesota is currently ranked third in the nation for the percentage of 25 to 34 year olds that have earned an associate degree or higher (48%), but at the current rate, we fall well short of the 70 percent that we will need to be competitive.

The Governor’s Workforce Development Council (www.gwdc.org) spent the last year working with hundreds of stakeholders across the state to develop recommendations for the Legislature to improve Minnesota’s education and training system to help meet our state’s increasing demand for skilled workers.

Some of their recommendations include:

Setting Goals and Developing plans for increasing adult credential attainment

Integrating state data systems to better understand and serve working learners

Reducing Cost barriers to credential attainment

Ensuring that Minnesota’s workforce development system has the capacity to handle the state’s looming demographics and economic shifts

Developing a state plan to extend the work life of aging workers

Supporting entrepreneurship and small business development among aging workers

Establishing the State of Minnesota as a model employer of people with disabilities

Identifying off-track students and brining them back on track

For the entire list of recommendations, visit: www.gwdc.org/policy_advisory/All_Hands_on_Deck_2011.pdf or search for “2011 policy advisory all hands on deck”

It is up to the Legislature to digest this information and begin to incorporate these ideas to get Minnesota’s workforce moving in the right direction. These policy initiatives will not happen overnight, but we need to start the process in our committees this session to ensure that Minnesota stays competitive for years to come.

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions as needed. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your house or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.

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Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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