Workforce Council Strategies Mirror Dayton’s Jobs Plan

The Governor's Workforce Development Council recommended that in order to fill the state's skills gap, state programs that provide career-specific training to adults must be introduced or expanded-recommendations that are similar to initiatives proposed in Governor Mark Dayton's jobs plan released last month.

The Governor's Workforce Development Council (GWDC) on Thursday released a report saying that in order to make a globally competitive work force, Minnesotans need to have access to improved education and training.

The GWDC drafted the report-“All Hands on Deck: Fifteen Recommendations for Strengthening Minnesota's Workforce”-in response to concerns about a growing skills gap in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The council comprises 32 members from the business and education communities, local government, community-based organizations, organized labor and state agencies, and the Minnesota Legislature. Many of the strategies outlined in the council's report are similar to initiatives that Governor Mark Dayton proposed in January as part of his jobs plan.

The report includes a recommendation to expand Minnesota FastTRAC, a state program that provides career-specific training in fields that are in high demand, including health care, education, and manufacturing. In his jobs plan, Dayton recommended that the Legislature approve an additional $4.5 million in annual spending for FastTRAC expansion, with a goal of serving 3,000 Minnesotans by 2013.

The council also recommended new educational opportunities for adult workers that wish to expand their careers or gain new training. In his jobs plan, Dayton proposed a pilot program-Minnesota Opportunity Grants-that would provide $2,000 grants to 2,000 Minnesotans for up to two semesters of training for jobs that pay more than 175 percent of the federal poverty level.

The council also recommended expanding work opportunities for people with disabilities and providing opportunities for high school students to succeed in careers and postsecondary education.

“We're encouraged by Governor Dayton's commitment to making Minnesota's work force a top priority,” Inez Wildwood, who chairs the GWDC and is manager of talent acquisition and development at Duluth-based Allete, Inc., said in a statement. “These proposals are crucial for ensuring that Minnesota has a strong work force that will keep the state competitive globally.”

The GWDC's mission is to analyze and recommend work force development policies that will ensure that Minnesota has a competitive work force. Twenty-eight of its members are appointed by the governor and serve terms three years in length. Two state representatives and two state senators are appointed to the council by their majority and minority leaders.