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Special Focus

The Workforce Myth Despite what many of us have been told, most employment opportunities in Central Minnesota don’t require post-secondary education. By Luke Greiner

C

entral Minnesota, like many other regions of the state and nation, is facing a demographic shift that will have wide ranging implications in the labor market. Baby Boomers are aging out of the workplace which, coupled with an expanding and demanding economy, means that workers are in short supply for many employers. Aligning educational offerings can help businesses fill highly demanded openings, and ensure graduates are met with ample opportunities for success.

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Business Central Magazine // J U LY/A U G U S T 2 0 1 7

Popular narratives often suggest that our economy will need a large increase in college-educated workers to meet the employment opportunities of today and tomorrow. However, analyzing the current and projected economy tells a different story. Thanks to a recent project by the Department of Employment and Economic Developement to update and modify the list of typical education requirements for occupations in Minnesota, we now have a more accurate resource to match education

levels with occupations. Using the new classifications to analyze current and future employment projections, the circle graph highlights two key points:

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR JOBS IN CENTRAL MINNESOTA

1 Over two-thirds of jobs in Central Minnesota typically do not require higher education for entry. 2 Future jobs in Central Minnesota will require roughly the same amount of educational attainment as they do now. What’s clear about the economy, both now and in the near future, is that most employment opportunities can at least be started without college or other types of higher education. What isn’t clear is the extent of employer-provided training needed, and how many of these skills can be fostered “in-house” for career advancement. With so much talk about the “skills gap,” but relatively few jobs requiring college (two- or four-year) degrees, it appears that simply increasing college enrollment would be an incomplete and ineffective response. After all, 70 percent of Minnesota high school seniors already enroll in college in the fall after graduating. A better approach might be to ensure students are learning what programs have jobs waiting for them to fill, while also increasing college completion rates. Identifying specific skills, rather than award levels, also has the

2024 2014

High School Diploma or Less Vocational Training Associate's Degree Bachelor's Degree Graduate Degree No Clear Education Assignment Source: DEED, Employment Projections and Educational Requirements

2.6%

July/August 2017 Issue  

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Business Central Magazine

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