Addressing the region’s workforce shortage

Created: November 22, 2019 07:10 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- In Southeastern Minnesota, good workers are in high demand.

"Not only are we in competition with each other in this region for employees and good workers, but we're also in competition with the Twin Cities, which for young adults is a very attractive place to live,” said Julie Nigon, Executive Director of Greater Rochester Advocates for Universities & Colleges (GRAUC).

In 2016, local employers reported more than 8,000 job vacancies according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Most needed were registered nurses, truck drivers, and retail workers. 

"How are we gonna sell our region,” said Julie Brock, Executive Director of Cradle to Career.

"Arts, culture, entertainment those are all important things talent is going to be looking for moving forward,” said Guy Finne, with Human Resources at Mayo Clinic.

GRAUC sent out about 70 surveys to local businesses and organizations to learn more about their struggles to find and keep employees.

"We weren't looking to see how many workers you needed, but what are your challenges? What's working and what isn't,” said Nigon.

A panel of workforce experts and representatives from Mayo Clinic and IBM presented the findings on Friday. 

"We definitely need to know what our employees desire from our employers. Those expectations are changing,” said Finne.

Employees now are looking for flexible time and workspace, higher pay and regular check-ins. 

"Are their concerns being heard? Is anything being done about them,” said Jinny Rietmann, with the Workforce Development Board of Southeastern MN.

Employers are making a push to get younger people career ready. 

"We have over 25 percent of our rural kids taking a gap year, and it's not to travel it's to work because they don't know what else to do. Why don't we capitalize on that,” said Brock.

Across the region, businesses and schools are looking to add internship, mentorship, and apprenticeship programs. 

"They may say hey working at this place and working in this city where I grew up is really a great thing and I want to do it,” said Nigon.

Employers hope that could be a big part of the solution. 

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