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CONTENTS FEATURES 14
The Hard Truth about Soft Skills
Forces at Work
Right of Way
Is There Life after the Baby Boomers?
Listen Up, Young Men and Women
Common-Sense Partnerships Link Students, Schools, and Businesses
New College and Career Paths Can Lead Back Home
Welcome to One Possible Tomorrow
Mythology Don’t Buy the Conventional Workforce Wisdom
36 Higher Education
Youth Jobs, Extracurriculars Plunge in Popularity
Training for Workforce Needs
38 Recruit & Retain 34 Classroom
48 Guest Editorial
Businesses Bend to Attract Young Workers
Adding Real World to the School Day
Baby boomers, Mary Jo Sakry, Les Green, Jim Carr, and Chuck Stark will soon bequeath the tools of their trades to the smaller Millenial Generation, represented by fifteen-year-old Alex Houle. Photograph by Jim Altobell
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
“Our mission is to unlock the power of central Minnesota people to build and sustain healthy communities.”
The Foundation Newsletter
Wadena Crow Wing
INITIATIVE FOUNDATION GOALS Pine
Strengthen Economic Opportunity Preserve Key Places and Natural Resources Support Children, Youth, and Families Build Organizational Effectiveness Encourage the Spirit of Giving
MINNESOTA’S 4TH OF JULY CAPITAL June 27 Little Miss and Mister 4th of July Pageant
July 1 Blue Thunder Baseball
Blue Thunder vs Wisconsin *kids eat free with an adult
June 28 Miss Brainerd Lakes Scholarship Pageant Tornstrom Auditorium
June 30 Right Friends Picnic
July 4 "American Celebration" 12 NOON Corn on the Cob Feed
July 2 Battle of the Bands
4 PM Parade with Grand Marshall General Bruce Carlson
Don Adamson Football Field
6 PM Winner of Battle of the Bands 6:30 PM Bill "The King" Musel
July 3 Gospel Night Heritage Assembly of God Church
Show 'n Shine The Body Works
8:00 PM "The District" 10:15 PM World Class Fireworks Kuhn Fireworks
The District July 5 Komen Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure Forestview Middle School
July 6 34th annual Arts in the Park Gregory Park 10 AM–4:30 PM
A Visit With a Friend
Lenses Dear Friends,
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Guiding You To and Through Retirement
It was one of those late summer afternoons that inspired someone to invent ice cream. Guiltstricken and salivating, I made a two-wheeled right-turn into the Little Falls Dairy Queen at the last possible second. The young woman took my order, took one look at me, and giggled through the whole transaction. “Kids, nowadays,” I’ve heard some people harrumph. “No skills. No work ethic. No respect.” I was starting to believe it myself. As I pulled away from the drive-through window—a little angry and humiliated—I happened to catch a glimpse of my face in the rearview mirror. One of the lenses in my sunglasses had popped out, and I looked like a suburban pirate. With chilled vanilla on my lips, I couldn’t help but laugh at how it’s so easy to miss the obvious. This issue of IQ Magazine tackles the future of Minnesota’s workforce. As baby boomers march toward retirement over the next decade, they will turn their jobs over to a much smaller generation—one that doesn’t always share the same values or skills that employers have come to depend on. Some experts predict a full-fledged crisis. Others see a bump in the road. But this much is clear—we cannot afford to miss the obvious. The solutions call for cooperation, compromise, and common sense. Students can’t expect the world to change for them. Schools can’t teach in a vacuum. Businesses can’t demand blind conformity. Fortunately, central Minnesota is leading the state in partnerships that bring students and teachers to the workplace, business leaders to the classroom, and our economy to a brighter future. Immigrants and refugees will also be some of our greatest workforce assets. Please share this issue with the students in your life. It’s written for them, too. Enjoy the magazine!
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Kathy Gaalswyk, President Initiative Foundation P.S. Special thanks to our four regional MnSCU colleges and universities that teamed up to sponsor this issue. On pages 12–13, read about the cutting-edge workforce programs of Central Lakes College, Pine Technical College, St. Cloud Technical College, and St. Cloud State University.
> VOLUME 6, SPRING 2008 INITIATIVE FOUNDATION Executive Editor & Director of Communications / MATT KILIAN Communications Associate / ANITA HOLLENHORST PUBLISHERS Evergreen Press / CHIP & JEAN BORKENHAGEN EDITORIAL Editorial Director / JODI SCHWEN Assistant Editor / TENLEE LUND ART Art Director / ANDREA BAUMANN Senior Graphic Designer / BOB WALLENIUS Graphic Designer / BRAD RAYMOND Production Manager / BRYAN PETERSEN Lead Photographer / JIM ALTOBELL ADVERTISING / SUBSCRIPTIONS Business & Advertising Director / BRIAN LEHMAN Advertiser Services / MARY SAVAGE Subscriber Services / ANITA HOLLENHORST
IQ EDITORIAL BOARD Initiative Foundation President / KATHY GAALSWYK Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest / GINA BLAYNEY Stearns-Benton Employment & Training Council / SALLY BRENDEN St. Cloud Technical College / SANDY FABIAN Initiative Foundation / CHRIS FASTNER Clow Stamping / TWYLA FLAWS Bridges Career Academy / MARY GOTTSCH Initiative Foundation / CATHY HARTLE Initiative Foundation / LYNN HOULE Initiative Foundation / JOHN KALISZEWSKI St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership / TOM MOORE Pine Technical College / ROBERT MUSGROVE Rural MN Concentrated Employment Prog. / CRAIG NATHAN St. Cloud Technical College / JONATHAN PARKER Initiative Foundation / SANDY VOIGT Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Services / TIM ZIPOY Initiative Foundation 405 First Street SE Little Falls, MN 56345 320.632.9255 | www.ifound.org Published in partnership with Evergreen Press, IQ Magazine unlocks the power of central Minnesota leaders to understand and take action on regional issues.
For advertising opportunities, contact: Lois Head 320.252.7348, firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Lehman 218.828.6424 ext. 25, email@example.com Kristin Rothstein 320.251.5875, firstname.lastname@example.org
BY DESMOND BERNSTEIN
Sky Is Falling? Don’t Buy the Conventional Workforce Wisdom Chris McAllister
alk into any central Minnesota cafe and ask the guy on the stool what he thinks about today’s kids and the future workforce. Then make yourself comfortable, because it’ll be awhile. Many of us share strong opinions about our work and what it takes to succeed. We bet you’ve heard (and maybe even passed along) the following myths. Here’s what the experts had to say . . . Conventional Wisdom: Young workers today are selfish, lazy, and unreliable. Reality-Check: America’s work ethic is changing, not disappearing. According to Greg Koenigs, humanrelations director for Coborn’s expanding chain of more than sixty grocery and convenience stores, the Millenial generation is bringing a new set of expectations and skills to the workplace. Coborn’s leans on 1,500 workers between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one—about a quarter of its total workforce. “I always hear that this generation doesn’t have a work ethic,” says Koenigs, “but I see them getting exceptional grades. I see them involved in sports, extracurriculars, volunteerism, and working besides. They’re doing a ton of things—way more than my generation did. “But you just can’t tell them, ‘Here’s a toothbrush. Now, go sweep the floor.’ Nowadays, kids ask why. They don’t just accept authority for the sake of authority. As adults and supervisors, we need to understand that and not make generalizations.”
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Conventional Wisdom: A four-year degree is the first, essential step to success. Reality-Check: Not as often as you might think. Okay, what about the 2000 U.S. Census report that people with bachelor’s degrees earned about $15,500 more per year than those with high-school diplomas? Case closed, right? Not so fast. Looking forward to 2014, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) projects that 78 percent of all Minnesota jobs won’t require a four-year degree as their most significant source of training. “The idea that I grew up with—that if you get any four-year degree, you’ll be able to get a good job—is simply not true,” says Kathy Zavala, executive director of StearnsBenton Employment and Training Council. “Employers are singing a different tune now. Many high-demand occupations don’t require an advanced degree, so the key is understanding the labor market, yourself, and what your goals are.” Conventional Wisdom: With baby boomer retirements, a looming workforce shortage will cripple Minnesota’s economy. Reality-Check: The sky isn’t falling—at least, not everywhere. It’s true that certain sectors are scrambling to fill positions, especially in healthcare and manufacturing fields hit by the doublewhammy of retiring workers and increasing demand. While Minnesota’s northwest and
southwest regions are bracing for the worst, central Minnesota may be better positioned to weather the storm, says Cameron Macht, DEED regional analyst. “Employers here are worried about a shortage in skills more than workers,” he says. “Central Minnesota is in an enviable position right now. It has a growing population of twenty-five to forty-four-year-olds, many with higher education levels and twoincome households. All the ingredients are there for economic growth in the future.” Conventional Wisdom: If you want a good job, move to the big city. Reality-Check: Before you commit to suits, commuting, and skyscrapers, break out your calculator. There’s no doubt about it. Urban jobs pay better and there are more of them. But Don Macke, director of Nebraska’s RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, has a message for starry-eyed rural students waiting to flee their hometowns after graduation. “My advice to young people today is to do the math,” says Macke. “If you’re considering relocation to a big city, remember that you’ll face a 20–50 percent higher cost of living related to housing, congestion, and crime.” According to the Initiative Foundation, central Minnesota’s rural communities are also poised for future growth in technology, bioscience, and high-tech manufacturing companies with many professional and skilled job opportunities close to home. React at IQMAG.ORG
Get Assistance for Growing
Whether starting a new
business or expanding your company, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has the resources you need to make your venture a success. Business Information Business Financing Business Location Workforce Development Exporting Assistance Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ)
For more information contact: DIANE KNUTSON Economic Development Specialist West Central Region OfďŹ ce: 320-684-9985 Cell: 651-238-0537 Toll Free: 1-866-684-9985 E-mail: Diane.Knutson@state.mn.us
BY BRITTA REQUE-DRAGICEVIC
No Experience Required? Youth Jobs, Extracurriculars Plunge in Popularity
ary Kenna remembers the first time she tried to sell Girl Scout cookies. She white-knuckled her order sheets and rang the doorbell, all the while rehearsing her sales pitch and hoping no one was home. She surprised herself when she sold a few boxes and then a few more. With each passing cookie, her confidence began to grow. And that wasn’t all. Slowly but surely, the unsuspecting girl built a foundation of future skills—speaking in public, working with others, setting goals, managing money, and serving her community. Fast-forward a few decades and you might recognize Mary as an adult leader and mentor for two Girl Scout troops in Little Falls. Nice story, right? Many adults could share similar experiences about how they learned life-guiding lessons through parttime jobs, sports, clubs, or volunteering. But today’s youth might not be able to do the same. In 2007, more than 71 percent of ninth-grade boys and 63 percent of ninth-grade girls surveyed by the Minnesota Department of Education said they did not participate in hobbies, volunteer activities, academic clubs, or community clubs. The rates for twelfthgraders were even lower. According to a 2005 study by Northeastern University, national employment rates for sixteen-to-nine-
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
GOOD BATCH: Mary Kenna with Little Falls Girl Scouts. Fewer Minnesota youth are participating in activities or part-time jobs.
teen-year-olds fell to 36.5 percent, their lowest level in the past fifty-six years. “The concern is that not enough young people are taking advantage of early opportunities to build their soft skills and leadership abilities,” says Kathy Gaalswyk, Initiative Foundation president. “Instead, they might be learning them at their first professional job, and that has some employers pulling their hair out.” Greg Zylka, manager of Coborn’s grocery in Little Falls, employs about sixty high-school students. “They have to learn skills that you just can’t teach in a classroom,” he says. “Even working one day a week gives kids exposure to the public and to working with other people. They also learn that they have a supervisor to answer to.” Zylka says he sees himself as a mentor more than a boss. “I take pride in seeing these kids grow and work, some even through college. It’s incredible to see the transitions they make. Each one is near and dear to me.” The Initiative Foundation, which counts youth engagement among its priori-
ty areas, is also concerned about the future of community leadership. “If we don’t create opportunities for youth to get involved in community service and leadership when they’re young, how can we expect that they’ll suddenly be interested ten or twenty years from now?” Gaalswyk adds. Kenna also works as the adult coordinator for the Morrison County Youth as Resources program, one of ten central Minnesota YAR programs funded by the Initiative Foundation. Through YAR, teen boards with adult advisors raise money for youth-led service projects in their hometowns. Projects have ranged from making blankets for young victims of domestic violence to raising awareness about methamphetamine. Youth learn leadership and service while creating positive changes in their community. “I think there needs to be a resurgence of the community culture that it takes a village to raise a child,’” says Kenna. “Youth have a stake in almost every issue affecting communities, yet how often do we ask them to join us at the table?” React at IQMAG.ORG
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Our mission: We build futures. C
LC promotes success for our students, businesses, and communities. We are preparing our students for the future with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for living and earning. By building and sustaining individual futures, CLC contributes to the greater good of a regional community. An example of the commitment to economic development is our partnership with five area school districts (Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes, Pillager, and Staples-Motley) and the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce to link the worlds of education and work. The Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection were created as a system to ensure a viable workforce by enrolling high school juniors and seniors in college-credit courses that focus on career pathways. The academies are powered by project-based learning and a rigorous, real-world curriculum. A business advisory team helped college and high school instructors develop the curriculum. “Students will be the biggest beneficiaries with high-skill, high-wage jobs and careers,” said Dr. Larry Lundblad, president of Central Lakes College.
Central Lakes College is a full-service, comprehensive community and technical college with a 70-year regional heritage. We offer a mix of technical college and community college programs and courses from campuses in Brainerd and Staples. Central Lakes College is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer. ADA accessible.
A Proven Leader W
ith a mix of traditional and advanced programs, Pine Technical College (PTC) is responding to an evolving world. With an eye toward future trends, PTC has added programs in Virtual Reality, Networking & Microcomputers, and Prototyping & Reverse Engineering. Individuals who are trained in Computer Programming, Computer Science, Management of Information Systems, Business Administration, and Accounting are among the highest-demand employees.
demand for qualified workers. Practical Nursing, Public Welfare Financial Worker, and Early Childhood Development careers are abundant, and PTC’s programs have continued to provide educated workers. PTC has maintained high-quality trade programs, such as Manufacturing, Automotive, and Gunsmithing, while constantly adapting the curriculum and equipment to meet today’s employers’ rigorous standards. But credit programs are not all the college offers. PTC is a one-stop-shop for workforce Health and human service programs have development. The Customized Training Division sustained strong growth due to the immense provides custom-designed training programs to meet the needs of any company. The staff has the knowledge, experience, and credibility to help any employer maximize www.pinetech.edu their workforce potential.
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
PTC has helped hundreds of companies “rethink” how they work, match the right people to the right tasks, and train people to work more efficiently. The results are savings in time, money, materials, and satisfied customers. In today’s global marketplace, companies have to work smarter. Pine Technical College is a proven leader in helping companies reach that goal.
Special Workforce Issue
Prepared for a lifetime S
tudents in a business class developed a feasibility study for a life-science industrial park in Monticello. Engineering students built a formula car that earned considerable attention in an international competition. Students regularly conduct ecological research for the U.S. Army National Guard at Camp Ripley. Physical-education majors help children with disabilities learn to swim. Biological sciences students gather Mississippi River samples for a study on the effects of waterway contaminants on fish. Those real-world experiences help prepare students at St. Cloud State for Central Minnesota’s ever-changing workforce needs. At St. Cloud State, which balances strong liberal arts programs with specialized career preparation, students work with dedicated professors who share their expertise and provide opportunities for learning and leadership, expe-
rience and exploration. Students build their credentials through class projects, research, internships, campus activities, community service, study abroad, and interaction with people from diverse backgrounds. St. Cloud State graduates have strong analytical, writing, and speaking skills, and have been exposed to role models, methods, and the language of their fields in preparation for the workplace. The 16,000 students at St. Cloud State have access to 175 majors, minors, and pre-professional programs in business, education, fine arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and engineering as well as 50 master’s degrees. They leave the university ready to make immediate contributions in the workplace, but because of their fouryear liberal arts background and their college experiences, they’re also prepared for a lifetime of learning and professional development.
Partnering in Economic Development S
t. Cloud Technical College has changed a lot over the 60 years it has provided education and training for central Minnesota’s workforce. What began as a vocational technical institute at Tech High School in 1968, is now part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, serving over 12,000 students per year. While proud of its “vo-tech” beginnings, the college has evolved into a “real” college that offers technical education in several areas that are key to the economic development of central Minnesota. Students choose from programs in manufacturing technology, construction technology, transportation technology, business management, information technology, and health and human services. Additionally, in partnership with Anoka Ramsey Community College, students can earn an AA degree—the
first two years of a four-year degree. Full-time students usually complete programs of study in one or two years and graduates get jobs in the region. Placement rates at the college have averaged 98% over the past five years with nearly 80% remaining in central Minnesota. With over 100% growth in 10 years, it is easy to see how St. Cloud Technical College impacts central Minnesota. A recent survey conducted by Wilder Research finds that students and staff of St. Cloud Technical College add more than $57 million to the local economy each year. St. Cloud Technical College continues to be the provider of HIRE education in central Minnesota.
www.sctc.edu Spring 2008
I M A G I N E A W O R K F O R C E E X O D U S about the size of Minneapolis. As 381,000 Minnesota baby boomers lockstep toward the retirement age of sixty-five by 2015, they will bequeath the tools of their trades to a generation that’s not nearly as large or experienced. In fact, the Minnesota State Demographic Center estimates that their entry-level replacements (ages sixteen to twenty-four) will only number about 330,000. That’s 51,000 workers short.
Is a crisis silently looming?
The demographic shift starts this year as Minnesota is expected to see a 30 percent increase in workers reaching the average retirement age of sixty-two, according to the state demographer’s office. Cameron Macht, regional analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), says that northwest and southwest Minnesota may be hit the hardest. Central Minnesota, he says, may be better positioned to weather an impending “crisis,” due to its educational attainment, workforce participation, and population growth in ages twenty-five to fortyfour, the prime working years. “We can’t call it a crisis yet, but this workforce shortage could be crippling to some regions and industries,” says Macht. “We’re like weather people trying to predict the weather ten years from now. It’s an informed guess, but it’s still a guess.”
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
The state demographer’s office also predicts that both older and younger workers are more likely to work part-time. Some baby boomers will help meet future needs by returning to the labor force or remaining in the labor force longer than previous generations. “My biggest concern is that central Minnesota companies will have to turn away big business because they do not have the labor,” adds Tom Moore, president of the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership.
The Recruiting Revolution Some mornings Dan Pflepsen would prefer not to leave for work so he doesn’t. He picks up his laptop, plugs in his voiceover-IP phone, and starts receiving calls from the comforts of home. The flexibility allows the twenty-five-year-old salesman to be a top producer for Marco Business Products in St. Cloud.
“I like the idea that I can control my schedule,” he says. “It gives me the ability to have a healthy home life and a productive work life.” Hard-working professionals such as Pflepsen will be in high demand in the next decade. Boosting productivity and attracting
YOUNG GUN: Dan Pflepsen, Marco Business Products
qualified workers will challenge employers to become even more creative and flexible in their compensation, benefits, job descriptions, and scheduling, says Kristin Wolff, director of
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
community partnerships at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce based in Michigan. The traditional eight-to-five job likely will be challenged by workers—young and old— interested in flexible hours. Sales occupations will see the greatest need for new entrants in central Minnesota with nearly ten thousand openings by 2014. Struggling to secure a constant stream of talented sales professionals three years ago, Marco started offering a paid internship for sales students at St. Cloud Technical College, says Barry Opatz, director of marketing at Marco. “The old days of career fairs have a place, but it’s not enough,” says Opatz. “We’re finding we have to have a more aggressive approach to draw people to our company.” Marco has broadened its efforts by offering scholarships and initiating an award program at student sales competitions. Their goal is to attract sales graduates to one of Marco’s seven locations in Minnesota and North Dakota. Marco’s paid internship program attracted Pflepsen in 2005. The company’s familyfriendly culture, employee stock ownership plan and cutting-edge technology led him to accept a full-time position.
“It was a good opportunity for someone going into the direct sales business and business sales to see if it was a good fit,” he says. Today, Pflepsen foresees himself retiring from Marco—a rarity among today’s generation of workers. “I love the company, and I love what I do,” he adds. Programs like Marco’s will become even more important in the next decade as the nation faces slowed population growth. The U.S. population is expected to grow to 420 million by 2050, with the rate becoming sluggish after 2030 and reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression, according to the U.S. Census. By 2010, empty nesters will outnumber families with children for the first time in Benton, Stearns, Sherburne, and Wright counties. “The most challenging part of my job over the next ten years will be keeping up with change,” says Pflepsen. “There is so much new and emerging technology that we’ll have to evaluate as a company.” Seeing an increased demand for training, Marco hired a training director in 2006 and developed a ninety-day training program to better equip its workers to serve the company’s growing customer base, Opatz says.
Silver and Gold The aging baby-boomer generation will also heighten demand and wages for healthcare jobs. At HealthPartners Central Minnesota Clinics, finding nurses, physicians, and pharmacists is a full-time job. Physician recruiter Kathy Cumming O’Hara does not wait for an opening to begin her search. She scours the Midwest for native Minnesotans wanting to return home, focusing her attention on residency programs in Nebraska, Illinois, and Wisconsin, where HealthPartners has had the most success. A critical need for nurses in the next decade will put pressure on healthcare organizations such as HealthPartners. A national shortage will grow in the next ten years as many nurses reach retirement age and there are not enough new entrants in the labor force. HealthPartners has a young staff, but the organization still faces a loss of about 20 percent of its nursing and medical assistant staff due to retirement within the next ten years, says Karen Hoeschen, humanresources manager. HealthPartners leaders help shape and attract the future workforce by serving on advisory boards at area colleges. But some soft skills are hard to teach and even harder to come by. Hoeschen looks for individuals with superior customer service skills, and her search does not end at five p.m.
“When I go shopping and I’m at Target and I see someone who’s good at customer service, I’ll ask them what they are interested in doing,” she says.
Sharpening Skills Many youth already possess technological knowledge and expertise, but future workforce success may depend upon on schools and businesses working together to hone the next generation’s soft skills. Partnerships have begun to form and grow throughout the region in recent years, but they will need to become more prevalent over the next decade. Nearly half, or 250 Minnesota manufacturers, that responded to the 2007 Minnesota Skills Gap Survey had yet to collaborate with educational institutions— a key to overcoming workforce challenges and fostering high-skilled workers. That puts Minnesota behind the national rate identified by the National Association of Manufacturers. The Stearns-Benton Employment &
Training Council and St. Cloud Technical College partner with area employers to identify training needs and develop customized training program. Workforce U, a new program offered through the council, sprang from employer concerns that workers lacked job skills, such as punctuality, dependability, and problem-solving. Workforce U faced an instant demand its first year, serving nearly seven hundred students. Now in its third year, the program partners with area business leaders to develop an evolving curriculum centered on developing technical and soft skills. “Can we change the way that we’ve always done things? Can we meet in the middle and work together? Those are the big questions that have yet to be answered,” says Kathy Gaalswyk, Initiative Foundation president. “Students, workers, schools, businesses, and community leaders will all have to adapt their mindsets and systems to benefit each other. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done, but that’s the lever that will put our train on a different track.” React at IQMAG.ORG
Initiative Quarterly â€˘ IQmag.org
LISTEN UP, YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN.
Employers believe you have a problem. Not all of you, but enough to call it a trend. It’s not about your intelligence, confidence, or enthusiasm. According to your future bosses, it’s more fundamental and even more frustrating—things like working hard, thinking independently, getting along with customers and co-workers, and showing up on time (or at all, for that matter). Sure, you can write it off as every generation complaining about the next one. But when it comes to business survival, perception is reality.
“It has come to the point now where I just try to hire nice people instead of skilled welders. I can teach you to weld, but if you have a poor work ethic and can’t get along, it doesn’t really matter what you’re good at.”
Central Minnesota employers are joining a national chorus of voices bemoaning the erosion of soft skills in young workers. Soft skills are loosely defined as the non-technical skills that make people good employees—such as integrity, teamwork, decision-making, and communication—the foundation of a solid work ethic. According to the 2006 study, “Are They Really Ready to Work?” by four national business associations, 75 percent of surveyed employers said that incoming high-school graduates were deficient in these “applied skills.” Another 40 percent said that high-school graduates lack the soft skills needed even for entry-level jobs. Bill Scarince is one of those employers. “Ten years ago, about fifteen out of twenty applicants would meet our expectations for technical and people skills,” says Scarince. “Today, it’s only two or three out of twenty.” W.F. Scarince, Inc. is a precisionwelding manufacturer in Sauk Rapids. “I have a hard time finding kids with a good work ethic, dependability. They don’t understand that they have to show up for work and they’re dismayed when their supervisor is upset if they skip,” he adds. “They just don’t seem to have the skills to make it possible to hire them.” The America’s Promise Alliance reports that more employers are making significant investments in remedial training. In response to mounting business concerns, even prestigious universities, such as Carnegie-Mellon, MIT,
Vanderbilt, and Yale have added softskills components to business and MBA programs. Scarince simply changed his hiring practices. “It has come to the point now where I just try to hire nice people instead of skilled welders,” he says. “I can teach you to weld, but if you have a poor work ethic and can’t get along, it doesn’t really matter what you’re good at.” In the 1980s, when Ginger Glenn began to notice soft-skills issues among young employees, she attributed it to a lack of perception that every person’s job is critical to the success of the company. To her surprise, she wasn’t the only Princeton employer facing this new challenge. With support from the Initiative Foundation, Glenn Metalcraft, a metalspinning manufacturer, joined forces with other area businesses to form the East Central Minnesota Workforce Partnership. “Together, we worked with fourteen schools to develop an employability softskills list,” says Glenn. “I try to teach our young employees that they have personal value. We show them how much they are needed to do their best and how everything they do contributes to the whole. People in manufacturing deserve to be respected as much as anybody in a professional occupation.” Glenn also began her own highschool apprenticeship program, the first registered by the U.S. Department of Labor since World War II. The program is designed to teach soft skills, while allowing students to legally work three days CONTINUED ON PAGE 46
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Do You Have What Employers Want? Leadership Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals. Use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. Professionalism & Work Ethic Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, such as punctuality, cooperation, and time/workload management. Critical-Thinking & Problem-Solving Exercise sound reasoning and analytical thinking. Use facts and data to solve workplace problems. Creativity & Innovation Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work. Communicate new ideas to others. Teamwork & Diversity Build relationships with colleagues and customers. Learn from and work with diverse teams. Manage conflicts. Oral & Written Communications Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively. Lifelong Learning & Self-Direction Be able to continuously acquire new knowledge and skills. Monitor learning needs and learn from mistakes. Ethics & Social Responsibility Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior. Act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind. Information Technology Select and use technology to accomplish tasks. Apply computing skills to problem-solving. Sources: The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills
By Dawn Zimmerman Illustration by Chris McAllister Photography by Jim Altobell
Common-Sense Partnerships Link Students, here were no two-way mirrors or secret recordings, but a handful of high-school juniors and seniors were surely under surveillance in Morrison County. In 2007, students met face-to-face with forty business and education leaders probing workforce challenges and fresh partnerships. “So, how many of you have decided on a career?” asked the moderator. They all raised their hands. “Okay, how many think you need to move to find a job?” Again, all hands went up. As students spouted one dream job after another, the adults were stunned at what they heard.
Schools, and Businesses “Every single career could be found right here in Morrison County,” says Sandy Voigt, program manager of technology finance at the Initiative Foundation. In the next decade, removing students’ blinders to opportunities in their backyards will challenge leaders as the region faces a labor shortage and competes with the world for talent. A startling demographic shift in the labor force will result in 1.1 million total job openings statewide between 2004–2014, according to the Minnesota
NO SUBSTITUTE: Twyla Flaws, HR manager for Merrifield’s Clow Stamping, introduces high-school students to high-tech manufacturing. RIGHT
IN THE SHADOW: Through the Bridges partnership, senior Katie Geffell explored hometown careers at Brainerd’s Consolidated Telecommunications Company.
Department of Employment and Economic Development. A need to fill nearly 122,200 openings in central Minnesota will demand a constant environment of trailblazing teamwork. “We’re going to need to be more efficient, effective, and comfortable with all modes of collaboration,” says Kristin Wolff, director of community initiatives at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, a national nonprofit for research and policy based in Michigan. Trailblazers in their own right, Morrison County is one of a growing number of promising workforce partnerships in central Minnesota. Katie Geffell, a senior at Crosby-Ironton High School, never thought she could take her future business degree to Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC), a hometown employer, until she participated in a group job-shadow this year through the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection. Geffell didn’t know what to expect when she signed up for the Bridges program earlier this school year. But in recent months, the program has helped her further define her plans after graduation. “(CTC) was different than I expected,” she says. “It’s narrowed
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
down my choices for what I want in a career.” According to Voigt, the upstart Bridges program represents a near-perfect partnership that is quickly becoming a Minnesota model of common-sense success. It works like this: Local businesses identify high-demand careers and skills. They offer tours, job-shadowing, internships, and classroom presentations. High schools provide career counseling, teacher “internships,” and relevant coursework. Colleges customize programs and bring courses to the high school for dual-credit opportunities. Chambers and economic development leaders keep everyone talking and working together. Students simply work hard, ask questions, and choose a career— hopefully, a hometown career. The program’s no-barriers approach and quick launch have turned heads throughout the state. Bridges has received attention from the Governor’s Workforce Council and Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren, who have commended the program and are interested in how it unfolds. “Bridges is one of those simple ideas that makes so much sense that you wonder why it’s not happening everywhere,” says Voigt.
“Everybody talks, everybody adapts, and everybody wins.” Why isn’t it happening everywhere? Voigt says turf issues often stand in the way of reaching the right people at the right time. Business competitors feel uneasy about sharing information. High school restrictions prevent employers from connecting with students. Often, everyone operates within their own systems, with their own agendas. But a laundry list of workforce needs is breaking down barriers and leading high schools, colleges, nonprofits, and businesses to come together and prepare the community for the future. “It’s not about turf,” says Twyla Flaws, who helped pioneer the Bridges program as Clow Stamping’s human resources manager in Merrifield. “It’s about success.” Dual-credit courses offered through the Bridges Academy focus on five high-demand industries identified by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s workforce development council based on DEED projections. They are: applied engineering, health services, manufacturing technology, business administration, and nursing. Last fall, the academy provided sixteen col-
Simple Ideas to Link Learning & Earning Promote Tourism Partner with high schools or colleges to host interactive student tours. Show how classroom concepts relate to local job opportunities. Leave plenty of time for Q&A.
Cast Shadows Create a formal job-shadowing program that links students with model employees. Treat each student like a VIP customer and expand his or her role from observer to doer.
Go Back to School What makes a class more interesting than a guest speaker with fun activities that bring learning to life? Host or volunteer as a speaker in classes and youth organizations.
Fair Well Bring the future to students by attending or organizing a school career fair. Think young and emphasize the “cool factors.” Bring info about education, wages, and openings.
Revive the Intern Transform college internships into temp-tohire programs. Make positions competitive and meaningful to attract top students,then up the ante by offering a stipend or scholarship that rivals other part-time wages.
. . . or Skip School Encourage teachers to take a day off for a business tour or job-shadow. Discuss workforce needs. You can bet they’ll share their experiences with students.
Source: Bridges Career Workplace Connection, Initiative Foundation
lege-level courses in five school districts. A decline in industrial technology programs in area high schools has made it more challenging for employers, such as Clow Stamping, to attract youth to manufacturing careers. The Bridges program provides a connecting point between employers and students who may not have manufacturing on their radar screens. “It’s vital,” adds Flaws. “No one is going into manufacturing careers. It’s not promoted, but once kids get here, they’re like, ‘Oh, cool!’” Bridges focuses on exposing teens to an array of career choices and the skills needed to succeed. Soft skills in attendance, dependability, and critical-thinking top employers’ wish lists. Mary Gottsch, director of the Bridges programs, has seen efforts open unexpected career paths for students, such as her daughter, Katie, who never planned to pursue advanced placement classes or post-secondary options. A junior at Crosby-Ironton High School, Katie could now graduate with two years of college credits. A healthcare careers course and job-shadowing opportunities sparked Katie’s interest in radiology, a career her mother believes she would have never known about or considered without the program. “What we’re doing is hopefully exposing students, while they’re still in their high-school
years, to a variety of career options,” says Becky Best, dean of external studies at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. “I’m hoping they will be able to jumpstart their careers during their K–12 and post-secondary education.” That will make them more successful and help the region better meet its workforce needs, she says. Brainerd may be at the forefront, but they’re hardly alone in the partnership revolution. In 2002, the Partners for Strategic Growth banded together to research the workforce, community, and economy of Stearns and Benton counties. Its community assessment churned ten attributes, such as business size, employment, productivity, and profitability to crank out a list of strategic industries that power the area’s economy: business services, health services, engineering/management, manufacturing, printing/publishing, and wholesale trade. The study provided a target for several school-to-work projects that now focus on these types of careers and related skills. Bracing for a national bioscience boom, a coalition of central Minnesota business, economic development, and education leaders launched the Science Initiative of Central Minnesota (SICM) to emphasize the region’s assets and draw science-based businesses to the region. The group set an early goal to bring at least two hun-
dred high-paying bioscience jobs to the St. Cloud area by the end of 2008. Dr. David DeGroote, dean of the St. Cloud State University’s College of Science and Engineering, spearheaded efforts to develop a master’s program that aims to address a critical need in the medical device industry for workers specializing in regulatory affairs, clinical trials, and quality systems. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the Midwest and the first in the country to focus specifically on medical devices. Leaders say that similar innovations will be needed to fill workforce needs and offer young workers opportunities to find success close to home. This will call CEOs, college presidents, civic leaders, and conscientious citizens to go beyond traditional models to cultivate partnerships, says Kathy Gaalswyk, president of the Initiative Foundation. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Gaalswyk. “We have to identify what the needs really are in our communities and be intentional about providing the right learning opportunities that will equip our students.” React at IQMAG.ORG Spring 2008
GAME ON: Kelly Murphy ponders her first move with mom, Christine (left), and career counselor, Linda Dockter (right).
ighteen-year-old Kelly Murphy stands ready at square-one. Flanked by her parents and career counselor at Brainerd High School, she can finally peer down the crisscrossing paths of education and job opportunities. Kelly wants to be a sonographer— the ultrasound person who captures those first grainy images of babies and inner organs. Her first decision is a big one. And it’s a decision that many Minnesota families are making alone, unaware as the shifting workforce landscape challenges time-tested truths about what it takes to succeed. Kelly didn’t begin to seriously consider her education and career options until she was a junior. And like many students, her interests wavered—from real estate to orthodontics. She learned about sonography from a teacher and the career intrigued her. “I figured out that I didn’t want to do something involving blood,” she says. “I think she’s found something that fits,” her mom, Christine Murphy, adds. “Kelly spent a lot of time researching.” She also spent valuable time talking with Linda Dockter, the career center director at Brainerd High School. “Like I tell all of my students, I believe that high school alone does not
By Britta Reque-Dragicevic Photography by Jim Altobell
Illustration by Andrea Baumann
prepare you for work. You need to do something more,” Dockter says. “But not everyone needs to invest in a four-year degree to have a good-paying job.” Although a 2002 U.S. Census report estimated that a bachelor’s degree yields $2.1 million in added lifetime income, times may be changing. Today, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) projects that, between 2004 and 2014, about 78 percent of all Minnesota jobs won’t require a four-year degree as their most significant source of training. “That doesn’t mean advanced degrees are irrelevant. They’re still the golden ticket to several careers,” says John Kaliszewski, Initiative Foundation vice-president for economic development. “But we shouldn’t be telling every kid that they’re a failure if they don’t go to a four-year school.” Nationally, Minnesota ranks seventh in the number of young adults enrolled in post-secondary institutions, according to
the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. In 2005, about 66 percent of state high-school graduates enrolled in the fall following graduation, a significant jump from the 60 percent in 1999. In Brainerd, the post-secondary enrollment number has held steady at about 40 percent, according to Superintendent Jerry Walseth. However, he says that the percentage of students directly entering the workforce jumped from 5 percent to 12 percent during the 2006–2007 school year. “What has changed? Our emphasis on careers, on sharing info with students about what’s out there,” says Walseth. “We’re providing a variety of exposures to careers that we didn’t before.” Many exposures are courtesy of Brainerd’s “Bridges Career Academies,” a state-recognized partnership among local businesses, area schools, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, and Central Lakes College to offer courses that earn concurrent high school and college credits.
HELP WANTED: Roving Career Counselor programs like those planned in Little Falls could elevate Minnesota’s 49th place ranking in counselor-to-student ratio.
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Bridges now covers the cost of healthcare courses that are delivered at the high school. Students job-shadow at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. As for Murphy, she plans to attend St. Cloud Technical College, one of a few two-year colleges in Minnesota that offer sonography training. When she graduates, she wants to live and work close to home. Such plans may spell good news for both rural communities with workforce shortages and students who would rather return home than rush to the big city. “On average, it costs about $120,000 to educate a student in Minnesota from kindergarten through high school,” says Kaliszewski. “If communities can bring their graduates back home instead of preparing them for jobs in the Twin Cities, there’s a big payoff there.” According to DEED, Murphy’s chosen field of healthcare is forecasted to be in high demand as central
Minnesota experiences a silver tsunami of aging baby boomers. “There are many opportunities for young adults to work where they live,” says Craig Nathan, who coordinates workforce development and training for the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (CEP). He’s involved in several projects geared at exposing students to local job opportunities. Funded by the Initiative Foundation, CentraCare Health Foundation and Otto Bremer Foundation, one CEP pilot project provided summer scholarships for Little Falls, Royalton, and Pierz high-school students to train as certified nursing assistants. Last year, fifty students applied for ten scholarships. “It’s been a great way to expose students to the healthcare industry,” adds Nathan. In addition to healthcare, workerstarved manufacturers also have their eyes on high-school students. Leaders are trying to change negative stereotypes of the industrial workplace. “Manufacturing is vibrant here. There is a great need now and in the future,” says Tim Zipoy, director of the Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Center in Monticello. “But there’s this misconception out there that manufacturing is dark, dirty, and dangerous. In reality, these are exciting, high-wage jobs that apply technology, math, and science on a daily basis.”
According to Nathan, high-school exposure is a major factor in helping students evaluate careers and navigate education options. Traditionally, a student researched careers, consulted parents and friends, and made appointments with his or her guidance counselor. In Minnesota schools, however, that may be easier said than done. “Our research tells us that high schools are not able to supply career counseling to the degree they want to,” says Nathan. “They attribute it to lack of resources or appropriation. Today, Minnesota ranks forty-ninth in counselor-to-student ratio.” In 2005–2006, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Minnesota had a staggering 811 students per counselor, second only to California in overload. When it comes to career exploration, parents and students often go it alone. “In my opinion, there are too many demands on counselors today,” says Nathan. “Many spend the majority of their time helping students schedule classes so that they’ll meet graduation requirements. They also have to handle discipline and social crisis as well as one-on-one counseling for special education.” Rural Minnesota CEP decided to take action. In partnership with the Healthy Community Collaborative of Morrison County, they devised the “Roving Career Counselor” program, with two full-time counselors floating among five high schools to bring additional help to schools.
Brainerd has responded by creating the career center, where Dockter spends her days helping students prepare for graduation, evaluate their options, and apply to colleges. She also coordinates scholarships and talks to classrooms about career choices. “I ask students what interests them, and then we start exploring what kind of jobs might pay well and match their skills and abilities,” says Dockter. “I use information from the Department of Labor to show kids the real numbers when it comes to wages.” “I’ve always wanted Kelly to follow her dreams and to do whatever made her feel comfortable,” says Kelly’s mom, Christine Murphy. “I didn’t push her toward or away from anything. We talked about the real-life aspects of the job—how as an ultrasound technician, she may not always be discovering positive results. She understands that, and I think she’s made a good decision for her future.” Besides providing moral support, what else can parents do? Dockter recommends that parents start talking about careers early—before high school. “Kids see employment through what their parents do,” Dockter said. “When I have a student going into teaching and they tell me they want to go to a private college, we talk about their student loans compared to their salary. It’s a real eye-opener for most kids, and that’s where parents need to offer guidance.” React at IQMAG.ORG
Minnesota Office of Higher Education www.getreadyforcollege.org
Minnesota Career Information Systems http://mncis.intocareers.org Trustworthy Career Links for Minnesota Families
Available in most high schools and WorkForce Centers throughout the state, MCIS provides current information about careers, education choices, and financial aid. Password required.
Minnesota Careers • www.iseek.org/mncareers
CareerOneStop • www.careeronestop.org
Minnesota-specific career details, trends, interest inventories, and planning advice on the changing worlds of education and work. Includes sections for both parents and students.
America’s largest publicly funded resource for career info offers profiles, labor-market data, and education advice for students, job-seekers, and employers. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Spring 2008
Source: Denise Felder, Minnesota Careers editor
One-stop resource for navigating Minnesota’s post-secondary education and training options. Features advice on preparing, selecting, and paying for college.
By Dawn Zimmerman | Photography by Jim Altobell
In a blue-white world of lab coats, test-tubes, and multiplying organisms, Nicole Ruprecht sees her career through the lens of a microscope. Like the cells she observes, her industry is constantly evolving, innovating, and outsmarting. Decades ago, few could fathom the high-tech skills needed at her workplace, St. Cloud’s MicroBioLogics. Just as today, few can predict with scientific certainty what career opportunities await young students. The technologies simply don’t exist yet. But there are clues, if you know where to look.
Nicole Ruprecht, MicroBioLogics
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Ruprecht didn’t know where her degree in biomedical science would lead after she graduated from St. Cloud State University in 2006. Today, she works behind the scenes of the emerging bioscience industry as a quality control technologist at MicroBioLogics. The local company, which distributes internationally, creates freeze-dried organisms that medical clinics and hospitals use to determine if lab tests are positive or negative. Ruprecht troubleshoots microorganisms to ensure they are reacting properly and the
results patients receive are accurate. “The average person doesn’t understand the work we do,” she says. “Most people take for granted that their test for strep throat, RSV, or a urinary tract infection is correct.” It’s an ever-changing field that will likely lead to new discoveries that the recent graduate cannot begin to grasp today. Ruprecht already has seen patients become more interested in the science behind their health. “People are getting so much more concerned about bacteria,” she adds. “It’s not just that you
have the flu, but why you have the flu.” Jobs in healthcare will dominate the central Minnesota landscape, but manufacturing, computers, mathematics, and bioscience will also lead the region’s labor force through the next decade. Even workers who are not interested in those high-demand fields will experience a favorable job market where openings surpass available labor. “The days of committing your life to a single job are long gone,” says Sandy Voigt, program manager for technology finance at the Initiative Spring 2008
Jobs in healthcare will dominate the central Minnesota landscape, but manufacturing, computers, mathematics, and bioscience will also lead the region’s labor force through the next decade. ROCK ON: In-demand jobs at St. Cloud’s Park Industries are changing perceptions about manufacturing careers.
Foundation. “I don’t see them ever coming back. Most young people will change careers several times in their lifetime and they’ll need to keep learning to keep their skills marketable.” Central Minnesota will need nearly 51,000 new workers to enter the workforce by 2014 to fill the job openings expected to be created by regional employers, according to the Minnesota State Demographic Center. “In central Minnesota, no jobs are really expected to become extinct, or disappear completely in the next five to ten years,” says Cameron Macht, regional analyst at DEED. Declines are expected in jobs that can be replaced by technology, such as packaging and filling machine operators, parking lot attendants, switchboard operators, and file clerks, Macht says. Farming, once a cornerstone in the region, also will face declines and continue to lose its stature, decreasing 17.6 percent from 2004–2014. Healthy Paychecks Growth in the healthcare and social-assistance industries will define the region over the next decade, adding the most jobs from 2004 to 2014. The local healthcare employment expansion will stem from nationwide growth expected to add 3.5 million jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Initially, Ruprecht had her sights set on becoming a physician. She planned on going on to medical school. But before she did, her work at St. Cloud Hospital changed her mind. “I realized physicians work crazy hours and they don’t really get to spend time with patients,” she says. “They don’t get to build relationships.”
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Healthcare jobs account for nearly one-third of the top fifteen high-demand, high-wage occupations identified in the 2004–2014 projections. Healthcare support occupations alone are expected to grow 42 percent and have 5,200 total openings by 2014. An Introduction to Health Care Careers course available at high schools in North Branch, Chisago Lakes, and Forest Lake aims to cultivate the next generation of healthcare workers by exposing youth to the wide opportunities available in the healthcare sector. Fairview Lakes Medical Center, based in Wyoming, started the immersion program with grants from the Initiative Foundation, Minnesota Department of Health, and the United Way. “It’s a gateway to healthcare careers,” says Carla Norelius, director of Fairview Lakes Community Health Outreach. “Not all the kids want to be nurses, but it’s good exposure to healthcare.” The program has engaged nearly six hundred juniors and seniors since it started in 2000. Two local registered nurses received licenses to
teach the course at North Branch, Chisago, and Forest Lake high schools. The course includes hands-on training through twenty hours of clinical experience at Parmly Life Point in Chisago City or The Villages of North Branch. Upon completion, students receive four or five college credits and are eligible to take the Minnesota Nursing Assistant Competency exam. About 97 percent of students who completed the course last year had planned to pursue healthcare careers, according to Fairview surveys. “Long-term, we are going to be able to have
High-Demand, High-Wage Careers in Central Minnesota, 2004-2014 Projected Growth
Medical Records & Health Info Technicians
Radiologic Technologists & Technicians
Medical & Clinical Lab Technicians
Computer Software Engineers
Community & Social Service Specialists
Industrial Engineering Technicians
Child, Family, & School Social Workers
Cabinet-Makers & Bench Carpenters
Substance Abuse & Behavioral Counselors
Business Operations Specialists
Special Education Teachers: Pre-K & Kindergarten
Source: Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development
these needed healthcare professionals,” adds Norelius. “In the community, we’re seeing the benefit right away,” with students hired as nursing assistants at area healthcare facilities. A Calculated Approach Workforce development leaders expect math and science skills to become more critical for the next generation of workers as careers in healthcare, manufacturing, math, and science rise to the top. “There are a lot of opportunities for sci-
ence jobs, especially with companies like Boston Scientific and Medtronic in the Twin Cities,” says Ruprecht. “There are a lot of future jobs for people like me.” Computer and mathematics occupations rank second in the fastest-growing fields in central Minnesota, expecting to grow 32.8 percent by 2014 and have nearly 1,100 openings. The business and financial field also is projected to lead regional growth with a 27.6 percent increase and nearly 4,500 openings. Science jobs, like many others, will increasingly take workers overseas for partnerships with their Chinese, Indian, or Japanese counterparts. A science-exchange program at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University already is trying to foster connections between local students and their Chinese peers at Southwest University. The program, started by chemistry professor Henry Jakubowski, aims to give students a broader view of the scientific world and better prepare them for growing workforce demands. TechnoManufacturing Healthcare may be an obvious highdemand sector given the aging baby boomer population, but the role of manufacturing
jobs certainly may be the unsung story that shapes the region in the next five to ten years. Central Minnesota is expected to add 90 percent of the state’s 3,553 new manufacturing jobs from 2004 to 2014, according to DEED. But technology will increase demand for higher-skilled manufacturing workers. A 2007 survey of 250 Minnesota manufacturers found that more than half of them already faced moderate to severe shortages due to a lack of qualified applicants. The Minnesota Skills Gap Survey for Manufacturing identified skilled production workers, scientists, and engineers in the highest demand. The region’s leading manufacturers, such as Park Industries, Komo Machine, and Clow Stamping, are actively working to engage the next generation of workers by giving them tours, emphasizing the “cool” factor, and dispelling stereotypes that manufacturing jobs are low-paying and mundane. “I don’t know what future jobs in manufacturing are going to be,” says Twyla Flaws, human resource manager at Clow Stamping in Merrifield. “They don’t exist yet. They are going to be opportunities we’ve never imagined.” React at IQMAG.ORG
BY BRITTA REQUE-DRAGICEVIC
Strength of Service Service-Learning Adds Real World to the School Day
n her high-school science classes today, Jenny Schmidt rarely asks the age-old question: “Why do we have to learn this stuff anyway?” Thanks to experiences that unite classroom concepts with real-world service, the eighteen-year-old already knows the answer. As part of a Health Careers class, Jenny was able to job-shadow at a long-term care facility and complete ten volunteer hours at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. That reinforced her interest in a pre-med major as well as in the high-school courses that will prepare her for it. “You learn life skills that you won’t learn sitting in school,” says Schmidt, who now works part-time at St. Cloud Hospital. “You learn how to work with people and you bring so much more to the classroom to discuss. You also learn responsibility—you have to show up for your shift on time.” Such experiences comprise a growing academic trend called service-learning. It differs from volunteering or community service because it is a focused part of learning—which emphasizes key employability and life skills—and is used to “teach by doing.” “It’s a win-win situation for students. For example, Somali students can teach their language to sixth-graders who are learning about Somalia,” says Jayne Greeney, who coordinates service-learning and youth service in the St. Cloud school district. “We had elementary students learning about birds, so St. Cloud Technical College students came in and helped them build birdhouses.” St. Cloud’s Cathedral High School requires that all students complete seventy hours of community service between their
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
tenth and twelfth grade years, as well as write two essays about their experiences. In Mora, the highschool career center is bringing students together with local craftspeople and business owners in an effort to revitalize their downtown. Kevin LaNave is the director of the Center for Service-Learning CLASS ACT: Senior Jenny Schmidt test-drives healthcare and Social Change, a St. Cloudcareers by volunteering at St. Cloud’s VA Medical Center. based nonprofit organization that works with educators and youth. limited time and financial resources in the He notes that students build skills wake of perennial budget cuts and the federin leadership, critical thinking, and probal No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates lem-solving as well as a growing commitannual progress in standardized testing. But ment to community service. “Service-learning is a powerful way for he also adds that schools don’t have to students to develop their abilities to choose between service-learning and achievencounter and collaborate with others,” ing math, science, and reading outcomes. LaNave says. “Students develop this aware“Service-learning is a different path to ness of the world and their self in the world. the same destination,” says LaNave. “When It’s rich in terms of impact.” done well, it can yield levels of learning that According to Michelle Kamenov, servexceed what is possible through traditional ice-learning specialist and counselor liaison learning methods.” for the Minnesota Department of Education, The words, “limited resources,” often several studies have linked service-learning conjure a lack of funding for student transexperiences to greater motivation for learnportation or materials. Instead, LaNave ing, improved attendance, higher grades, and maintains that time is a much bigger obstaenhanced preparation for the workforce. cle. Faculty training, planning, and building “Most business owners see these highcommunity relationships are essential. school experiences and relevant education as “When people are asked what they keys to building a strong, future workforce,” think the mission of schools ought to be, says John Kaliszewski, the Initiative they often say that learning should be releFoundation’s vice-president for economic vant to the community, with real-world expedevelopment. “The results are there, students riences outside the classroom,” adds LaNave. crave it, and businesses and nonprofits are “We have to support these goals with more more than willing to work with schools to than just words, because employers are not make it happen.” just looking for good workers—they’re also So, why isn’t it happening more often? looking for good people and good citizens.” React at IQMAG.ORG LaNave says the most common answer is
BY SARAH COLBURN
Revolutions per Minute Colleges Fine-Tune Programs for Workforce Needs
rive your rattling car to McKay’s Family Auto in Waite Park and you’ll be lucky to see half of Arsenio Clinton. The rest of him will be under the hood or running through codes on a diagnostic scanner. Ho hum. It’s what you’d expect from a service guy—until you catch a glimpse of his face. Is he old enough to have a driver’s license? Rest easy, your car is in experienced hands. Less than a year removed from high school, Arsenio is among the 250 students who participate in St. Cloud Technical College’s Discovery Academy each year. Through hands-on courses that earn high school and college credits, students can test-drive careers in health, automotives, computers, pre-engineering, carpentry, and welding. Glen Ertl, McKay’s service manager, says Discovery Academy students come in knowing how to dig into a vehicle and use professional tools—saving the company time and money. Arsenio entered McKay’s with sixteen college credits and the knowledge to do general service work, tire mounts, and oil changes. The nineteen-year-old is now taking more advanced courses and will graduate early to pursue full-time work at McKay’s. As central Minnesota colleges and businesses put their heads together to meet local workforce needs, the big winners are stronger economies and students like Arsenio. “It definitely prepared me for the future,” says Arsenio.
Initiative Quarterly • IQmag.org
Les Engel, CEO of Sauk Rapids’ engineering consulting firm, Engel Metallurgical, has spent decades advising school leaders on curriculum that has morphed classrooms into hands-on learning centers. According to Engel, technical colleges have always done a great job preparing students and the classroom is keeping up with technology. Still, he believes people don’t know about JUMP-START: Dual credits and hands-on training local workforce challenges. helped Arsenio Clinton land a job early at McKay’s “There’s been an image created Family Auto, owned by Patty Yarbrough. that tells the average person in the community that manufacturing is shortages in other areas.” dead—it all went to China and that’s St. Cloud State University is also adaptnot true,” says Engel. “This need for ing its programs to stay on the cutting edge. trained workers is critical.” In a regional partnership to attract high-tech, To meet workforce needs and better high-wage bioscience companies, it hatched serve students, St. Cloud Technical College, a new masters program in regulatory affairs Pine Technical College, and Central Lakes with a focus on medical devices. Graduates College are among the seven two-year will fill a glaring need—keeping bioscience schools that launched the 360º companies in-line with FDA requirements Manufacturing and Applied Engineering for new products. Center of Excellence. Bemidji State “It’s a step along an evolutionary pathUniversity is the lead four-year institution. way in the way universities like ours work The partnership allows students to transfer with business,” says Dr. Earl Potter, SCSU between schools without education gaps or president and Initiative Foundation trustee. lost credits. According to Potter, the emphasis on Robert Musgrove, president of Pine job skills has some worried that traditional Technical College, explains that each school education values are being tossed aside for specializes in an advanced technology that’s the workforce demands of today. Now more open to any student studying at a partner than ever, he says, it will be a student’s conschool. At PTC, it’s rapid prototyping—the tinuing education, critical-thinking skills, process of developing a new product in days and ability to see the big picture that will instead of months. “Everyone is keenly aware of the help them succeed. nursing shortage,” says Musgrove, “but React at IQMAG.ORG that shortage overshadows needs and
RECRUIT & RETAIN
BY TENLEE LUND
Youth is Served Businesses Bend to Attract Young Workers
ustin Wright is different than most twenty-somethings. He doesn’t see himself changing careers seven to nine times, as some experts predict for his generation. Dustin actually knows where he wants to work for the rest of his life. He knew it before graduating high school three years ago, when he talked to workers at Clow Stamping in Merrifield. “I love working with machinery,” says the newly promoted electrical discharge machine (EDM) operator. “There’s a lot of power there. It’s hands-on, forming steel, and it’s loud. I like that.” What Dustin didn’t like, however, were mornings. Rather than crowbar him into a rigid schedule that may have driven him to the Sunday want ads, Clow Stamping offered flexible hours during its second and third shifts. Twenty-something Holly Van De Venter wears a collar of a different color. The up-and-coming CPA joined LarsonAllen a year ago. She was working in Ohio for the U.S. Department of Defense when she found the Minnesota accounting firm during an Internet job search. “I wanted to move back,” she explains. “One of my goals is to own a lake home, so living in Brainerd is a great start.” But Van De Venter didn’t want to be pigeon-holed for her entire career. LarsonAllen offered a chance to work in several areas before involving her in the decision of where to specialize. Those and hundreds of other inventive perks have allowed central Minnesota companies to steer clear of operational slowdowns and protect mammoth invest-
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ments in workforce training. As steadfast baby boomers get ready to punch out, it’s STEEL-HEARTED: Flexible hours and powerful equipment keep Dustin all in the name of Wright faithful to Clow Stamping in Merrifield. recruiting and retaining the elusive young worker. years,” says Flaws. “They’re more apt to “The cost to replace an employee is say, ‘How does this job fit into my life and typically about 20 percent of their annual my schedule?’” wages,” says John Kaliszewski, vice-presiIn addition to paying higher wages dent for economic development at the and benefits, Clow Stamping took a giant Initiative Foundation. “If you’re an step outside the box by instituting an employer with high turnover, you really “open-employment” option. have to see worker retention investments as “If someone wants to leave here to a way of spending money to save money.” take another job, we tell them to go ahead and do it. Take a leave of absence, take a “Nowadays, younger personal leave—but don’t quit,” explains Flaws. “After six months or a year, if you workers don’t intend want to come back, come on back.” Several employees have taken advanto stay with their job tage of the unique opportunity to try for twenty years. something new—working on a road crew, managing an apartment complex, or movThey’re more apt to say, ing to the Twin Cities. If they return to ‘How does this job fit into Clow, they still have their skills, knowledge, and seniority—and they don’t my life and my schedule?’” require re-training. “Happy workers are productive workers,” says Flaws. “If you’re grumbling at Times have changed, according to your job and you don’t like what you do, Twyla Flaws, twenty-six-year veteran and you’re not going to be as efficient or as personnel manager at Clow Stamping. good as you would be otherwise. It all boils Employers are selling themselves to down to having a good fit between your prospective employees, in stark contrast to workers and your company.” the days when it was the other way around. “Nowadays, younger workers don’t intend to stay with their job for twenty React at IQMAG.ORG
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TALENTED TRIO New Staff Bring Experience, Talent “It’s definitely an asset to have staff with such diverse backgrounds,” says Kathy Gaalswyk, foundation president. “They all bring different things to the table yet have the same high level of drive and determination. We’re excited to have these three join us.” Tricia Holig’s role as program assistant for grants and training includes providing support to the foundation’s Healthy Organizations Partnership and VISTA programs for nonprofits. Tricia’s previous work experience includes residential mortgage closing and pharmaceutical benefit management. With more than twenty-three years of lending and administration experience in the banking industry, Paul Kleinwachter recently
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joined the foundation’s economic development team. As a business finance officer, Paul works with local business owners and lenders to provide gap financing for start-up or expansion projects. His goal is to create quality jobs. Jana Shogren’s experience as a counselor and youth program coordinator has proven useful as she joined the foundation
as a children, youth, and families specialist. Jana’s responsibilities include coordinating and providing assistance and training to local early childhood coalitions and youth engagement initiatives. Learn more about the twenty-four people who work at the Initiative Foundation by visiting: www.ifound.org/aboutus_staff.php.
> H E A LT H Y O R GA N I Z AT I O N S
GOAL: TO LEAD & SERVE Seven area nonprofits selected for training Every year, more than four hundred prison inmates and exoffenders re-enter the central Minnesota communities where they once lived. The stresses of finding a job, a place to live, and rebuidling relationships could send them back to square one—in fact, more than 40 percent of prisoners reoffend within the first year of being released. The Central Minnesota Re-Entry Project is working to change that. Through a mentorship program, referral services, and general support, the nonprofit helps ex-offenders transition back into their communities. “We’re there to help them become good citizens,” explains Joe Gibbons, executive director of the St. Cloud based nonprofit. “We don’t give them money, but we give them hope, support, and resources.” Along with six other local nonprofits, the Central Minnesota ReEntry Project was recently selected to participate in the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Organizations Partnership (HOP) program. Over the course of two years they’ll learn about strategic planning, goal setting, board development, marketing, and financial management.
“It’s a tough job to meet the growing need for services with fewer resources,” says Cathy Hartle, senior program manager at the Initiative Foundation. “HOP is designed to give those nonprofits the tools to succeed and continue their essential services to those who need it most.” Other organizations selected for HOP: Joe Gibbons, Central • Child Care Choices, St. Cloud Minnesota Re-Entry Project • Five County Mental Health Center, Braham • Foley Area C.A.R.E., Foley • Pelican Lake Association of St. Anna, Avon • St. Cloud All-City Marching Band, St. Cloud • St. Therese Center for Special Ministry, St. Cloud
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> TROPHY CASE
HONOR SOCIETY IQ Nabs Regional, State & National Awards It turns out that you’re reading an awardwinning magazine. Um, again. In February, the American Advertising Federation presented IQ Magazine with five regional Addy awards for creative excellence. The awards honored various 2008 covers, features, and the magazine website, www.IQmag.org. IQ has won seventeen Addys since 2003. Last year, the Minnesota Magazine & Publications Association awarded IQ its Overall Excellence award for special interest publications under a circulation of 100,000. Bursting onto the national scene, IQ also received the top award as one of the nation’s best philanthropic magazines, from the Virginia-
based Council on Foundations. This is IQ’s second such honor, recognizing the work of foundations with $21–100 million in assets. “Minnesota modesty aside, we’re very proud to stand side-by-side with the big boys,” says Matt Kilian, Initiative Foundation director of communications. “Our mission is to build healthy communities, and IQ’s role is to boil down the regional issues with compelling stories and bullet-
points for leaders.” Kilian credits Brainerd publisher, Evergreen Press, and a community-focused team, virtually all of whom discount professional services to ensure IQ’s longterm survival. “I’m just the orchestra director—the wild-haired guy with a bunch of crumpled pages and a wand,” he adds. “The real credit goes to our talented editorial boards, designers, editors, writers, sales staff, photographer, and printer. They’re the real artists who make the music.”
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They’re a great group of thinkers and participants, but they don’t yet know how to be independent and need constant direction and affirmation.” —Ginger Glenn
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per week. In addition to accruing two thousand hours of valuable apprenticeship experience, students are exposed to every aspect of the manufacturing process. Completion often results in a full-time job offer and paid education—a small price to pay for a workforce Glenn trusts. “Soft skills are mandatory. Students learn that when they work for us, there are some rules,” she says. “Our employees have a ninety-day probation period. If they don’t demonstrate the required soft skills, they don’t make it. Our apprentice program has really solved the soft skills issue for us.”
Both Glenn and Scarince also report doing a lot of “employer parenting.” “I love these young kids,” adds Glenn. “They seem to need a lot of reassurance and want to know that you’re there, so in many ways, I’m a caring mom to them. They’re great group of thinkers and participants, but they don’t yet know how to be independent and need constant direction and affirmation.” Clarissa Dumdei, a twenty-two-yearold registered nurse, admits that many young people don’t have soft skills, but she notices that some older workers lack them as well. She also says employers should communicate better. “I was raised on a farm and my parents made me hold a job in high school,” says Dumdei. “I learned what employers expect and what it means to work hard. Employers shouldn’t be afraid to tell employees what their expectations are. They need to keep the lines of communication open, too.”
Sally Brenden, deputy director of Stearns-Benton Employment & Training Council, agrees that employers need to be more proactive in telling new workers what they expect. She believes that soft skills are teachable and it’s the employer’s responsibility to discover and maximize talent. “You know, we are quick to judge young people, but you have to stop and ask, has anyone ever told them what employers expect?” says Brenden. “These kids are tech-savvy, polite, genuine, and honest. They look for meaning—they want to do well and connect with people. Many have never had anyone believe in them or give them something important to do.” The 2006 “Every Child, Every Promise” study by the America’s Promise Alliance suggests that young people could benefit from more opportunities to make decisions at home, at school, and within extracurricular activities. More than one-third of surveyed
youth reported too few opportunities to work in teams, take on leadership roles, and resolve conflicts. Brenden works with Camp Challenge—a St. Cloud summer program designed for atrisk youth to experience what future employers will expect of them. They teach soft skills and offer students paid stipends for their work. Students are rated on areas such as cooperation, punctuality, completing tasks, and getting along with others. “Like it or not, this generation needs to know what’s in it for them,” adds Brenden. “Some employers are very disrespectful of young workers, like they’re at the bottom of the barrel. What’s the incentive for a young person to do well in a situation like that?” Ashley Easley, nineteen, attended Camp Challenge for two summers and now attends St. Cloud Technical College. “Their support meant a lot to me,” says Easley. “One of the most important things I learned was how to
get along with other age groups. I feel more confident about myself now.” According to Ginger Glenn, getting along can be a major issue in age-diverse workplaces, such as Glenn Metalcraft, where every generation has different values, expectations, and work styles. “We had a lot of resentment from our older workers when we brought in these high school kids,” says Glenn. “I sat them down and asked how they would feel about these kids if they were their sons or little brothers. That really changed things. Now it’s like the big-brother program and they get along great.” “It really comes down to trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint and showing respect,” says Jill Magelssen, owner of St. Cloud’s Express Personnel Services, a full-service staffing and human relations firm. “When you understand better, you communicate better.” React at IQMAG.ORG
BY DAN McELROY
Grand Central Mid-Minnesota Surging Toward Workforce Success
’ll leave it to the analysts to speculate on whether the workforce “crisis” should be characterized as a ripple or a wave. We know this much—in 2006, Minnesota births were at their highest level since 1964. So far, so good, for growing a workforce. And according to population projections, central Minnesota is the fastest growing region of the state. However, while the labor force in the Initiative Foundation’s fourteen counties is projected to grow nearly 25 percent from 2005 to 2015, the number of sixteen- to twenty-four-year-olds is expected to decline just over 7 percent. In contrast, the labor force aged forty and older is projected to increase 42.5 percent during that time frame. This leads to a different type of available workforce, one that requires businesses and employees to adjust their expectations and skills. If we want businesses to grow and prosper, we’ll need more than strong fingers. We’ll need a firm handshake among all the partners—education, business, and economic development—to work together on the economic health of central Minnesota. Cultural assumptions persist that our young people are drifting away to the Twin Cities for good jobs and quality of life. Have you heard about the Cities’ new combined marketing campaign? Minneapolis St. Paul: More to Life. Well, there’s more to life in central Minnesota towns, too. • Living in central Minnesota allows you to take back your time. Commuting
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“If we want businesses to grow and prosper, we’ll need more than strong fingers. We’ll need a firm handshake among all the partners.”
in most areas means you can leave your home and arrive at work with your morning fish-house coffee still hot. The biggest loss to long-distance commuters is time. Parents have less time to spend with their children and to volunteer with community organizations. • More transportation talk: Hinckley is being talked up as a possible stop on a proposed passenger rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth—and could see $340 million in development. • Minnesota students have one of the best chances for educational success, according to the “Quality Counts 2008” report by Education Week. Nearly forty Minnesota high schools—including Sebeka Secondary and Verndale Secondary in Wadena County, Bertha Secondary in Todd County, and Sauk Centre Secondary in Stearns County—are included among the “Best High Schools 2008” in U.S. News and World Report. • St. Cloud, alone, has a number of college-level choices, while central Minnesota boasts at least five MnSCU customized training centers for workforce training and lifelong learning. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and MnSCU continue to promote professional development and Job Skills Partnership collaborations. • Two new career websites make it easier for youth to check on the local economic conditions and look for jobs in central and north central Minnesota: www.iseek.org/central and www.iseek.org/northcentral • The Northern Technology Initiative
in Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, and Pine counties was recently awarded a FIRST grant to develop a long-term economic competitiveness plan for central Minnesota. FIRST grants—Framework for Integrated Regional Strategies—take the state out of the picture and help regions develop a plan that fits their needs. There are many other economic development initiatives in central Minnesota that aim to develop and grow a closer-to-home workforce. Growth in central Minnesota is happening. Let’s channel it into a strong future for the region. React at IQMAG.ORG Dan McElroy is the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. DEED’s mission is to support the economic success of individuals, businesses, and communities by improving opportunities for growth.