MnSCU to Align Education with Work Force Realities

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will ask the state's businesses which jobs are available now-and which openings they project for the future-so that it can align its education programs with those needs and better prepare students to join the state's work force.

Minnesota's employers have indicated that quality jobs are available-but there's simply not enough workers with the necessary skills and education to fill them.

Leaders from Minnesota's universities, businesses, and government on Wednesday announced a joint initiative aimed at addressing that problem.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) unveiled a “work force assessment” program, which will seek information from the state's employers regarding how many workers they need and which skills are necessary for those positions.

Data will be gathered from employers through 40 “listening sessions,” and MnSCU said it ultimately intends to align its certificates, degrees, and training programs to better prepare students to join the state's work force.

“Minnesota has an immediate and growing skills gap that constrains the state's economic growth, increases unemployment, and limits opportunities for both businesses and individuals,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement.

MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said that the assessment program will help the school system “ensure that higher education is delivering the right academic programs and preparing graduates with the skills necessary for the success of Minnesota's businesses and communities.”

The assessments will begin in April, and they will initially focus on the health care, IT, manufacturing, engineering, energy, and transportation sectors. Sessions pertaining to the agriculture sector will occur in June and July, and assessments involving financial services and insurance companies are planned for the fall.

The sessions are free, and interested businesses can register here.

The MnSCU system comprises 31 state universities and community and technical colleges in Minnesota. It serves about 250,000 students in credit-based courses, as well as roughly 153,000 Minnesota employees through its customized training programs.