2021 data shows SE Minnesota had highest percentage of job vacancies in state

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(ABC 6 News) – A report from the Department of Employment and Economic Development shows the fourth quarter of 2021, SE Minn. had the highest percentage of job vacancies in the state. The report says the region had 18,827 job openings.

Months later, local businesses are still struggling to hire.

School is just around the corner for Creation Kids Preschool at St. Lutheran’s Church in Kasson, Minn. While the kids may be ready, there are not enough teachers for class.

“We need grown-ups to come here and take care of our littles,” said Michelle Coy, the Chair of Personnel Commission at St. Lutheran’s Church. Coy also volunteers to assist Creation Kids Preschool.

The school typically offers three sessions for the kids, but with staffing only at 50%, there may only be one session this year.

“God willing, we will get a teacher in here so we can reopen all of our programming,” Coy added.

Coy explains that if the children are unable to attend preschool this year because of limited spots and sessions, it can have a huge impact on the kids.

“They’re not prepared for kindergarten when kindergarten rolls around. They may not get the social skills that are needed for being a little person entering into a really big school,” Coy said.

If kids cannot get into preschool and daycare, their parents are unable to be in the work place as well.

Physically getting the kids to school, could prove difficult as well. First Student transportation services in Rochester, says it’s struggling to find school bus drivers.

The situation has become so dire that they have had to have mechanic technicians drive the buses. Office personnel also had to play the role of bus driver.

“Last school year, I predominantly drove a morning and an afternoon route, and did the rest of my job in between and after hours,” Jon Goetz, the Senior Location Manager at First Student in Rochester, said. “I don’t know why we can’t get people to do these real important jobs that we have, I mean it’s gonna be tough.”

While everyone is doing their part to drive, the bus company says parents should not worry. They have spent a lot of time mastering bus routes and will continue to ensure children have a safe ride to and from school.

As for the future of the school year for Creation Kids, it hopes it will have enough staff so that all kids can come to school this fall.

“We are doing everything we can to continue to search for the right person to teach and be an assistant in the classroom. If we can do it, we’re gonna do it and even if it’s the week before school starts, we’re gonna do it because the need is huge,” Coy said.