In a preview to a series this week on the so-called jobs-skills mismatch in Minnesota, MPR reporter Tom Robertson was on this morning’s Daily Circuit with Steve Hine, research director at the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Robertson told of a machine-trades instructor (Ronn Redemske) at a Central Lakes College machining program, who said he has a 100-percent job placement rate, and that people are calling up from as far away as Alaska to ask him to send students their way.
Robertson explains why the instructor can’t keep up with the demand:
“He’s got a program that can hold 22 students, and this semester he’s only got 20 students enrolled. He sees a gap in interest in going into those fields. Again, we’re talking primarily manufacturing here. But he really says, ‘You know, I could place these students immediately, but it’s tough to draw young people particularly into manufacturing-type programs. Because there’s a stigma about manufacturing — that it’s a dirty, dark place to work, and that it doesn’t pay well. And the folks that I talk to say that’s a misperception.”
Hine expressed doubts about the widespread complaint that employers can’t find enough skilled workers because of a true lack of skills. He mentions a recent survey of Minnesota employers:
“A lot of them acknowledged that their job postings were not attractive — whether it was because of low wages or a bad location or undesirable work shifts or what have you. Many of them acknowledged that they just were not competitive.”