• A big picture approach to improve Minnesota’s workforce.

Minnesota’s current workforce system should be modernized to better connect potential workers to the needs to businesses. As a solution, we support data driven approaches to:

  • Expand successful career pathways programs
  • Create standardized outcome reporting and evaluation
  • Engage employers in workforce development

College Readiness Academy | 2015

College Readiness Academy

MSPWin granted the International Institute of Minnesota’s College Readiness Academy $400,000 to develop intensive instruction and college preparation through classes, sector-specific training and intensive navigation to their students free of charge. Partners on the grant include Hubbs Center, Neighborhood House, and St. Paul College.

Since January 2015, 191 students have enrolled in the College Readiness Academy, and 43 students have successfully enrolled in college. Students have saved nearly $100,000 over the past 18 months. As a result, students can use their limited financial aid toward classes that lead directly to a certificate, diploma or degree.

Because of this success, we are working at the legislature to get additional funding to support successful programs like these around the state.

We are interested in proposals that support, expand or scale one or both of the following strategies: employer-led sector partnerships and career pathways.

Contact Information:

Ellen Watters 
ellen@ellenwattersconsulting.com  |  651-208-1480

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Minnesota’s workforce development challenge?

By 2022, Minnesota will need to fill nearly 550,000 workers in new and existing job openings.

Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong economy, with many successful companies. We need to continue to work to ensure employers have access to qualified applicants for high-demand, high-growth jobs – many of which require some sort of post-secondary education or training.

At the same time, too many Minnesotans are facing unemployment or underemployment.  We have one of the largest opportunity gaps in the nation. Minnesotans of color are less likely to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education and become employed in family sustaining jobs. The majority of Minnesota’s population growth is expected to happen in communities of color. We must urgently address the opportunity gap.

Our current workforce development system is not efficiently aligning the needs of individuals with businesses critical demand of workers. MSPWin is advocating for career pathways as a research driven approach to our current and future challenges. We are working toward a goal where businesses have the skilled workers necessary to compete globally and all Minnesotans have an opportunity to build a family supporting career.

What are career pathways?

Career Pathways efficiently combine basic skills instruction, training, and comprehensive support that help empower people to advance through the workforce to meet employer’s critical needs. Programs are flexible to meet the specific needs of regions, industries and individuals, but all programs have three guiding principles:

  1. Employer involvement aligning training with necessary job-skills, and placement after pathway completion.
  2. Coordination between local labor market information, training and market needs.
  3. Flexibility to allow individuals to enter and exit the program based on their needs, and creative solutions like stacking credentials, all building toward a successful career.

Why the Career Pathways approach?

Career pathways are effective and efficient because they focus on training for high-demand careers, and coordinate existing funding to ensure participants have the education and holistic support necessary to be hired in careers with family-supporting wages.

  • 88% Career Pathways participants who completed college credit or credential
  • 75% People who completed Career Pathway gained related employment
  • 57% More Career Pathway participants bypassed remedial education as compared to Adult Basic Education students

How is MSPWin different?

We believe we cannot simply recruit our way out of Minnesota’s labor challenges – we must ensure all Minnesotans have access to a living wage career. We are committed to focusing on finding solutions to better train and educate low-skill and low-income Minnesotans. We are working toward a goal where businesses have the skilled workers necessary to compete globally and all Minnesotans have an opportunity to build a family supporting career.

We take a big picture approach– we advocate for ideas and use research that improves the system as a whole. We also advocate for a data-driven approach to:

  1. Expand successful career pathways programs
  2. Create standardized outcome reporting and evaluation
  3. Engage employers in workforce development

What is holistic support?

Non-traditional students face a multitude of challenges in completing post-secondary education – childcare, transportation, financial pressures, and balancing work with continued education courses, to name a few. Career pathways address both the academic and human service needs that may adversely affect a student’s ability to stay focused on school or training programs.

What industries does MSPWin focus on?

Minnesota employers across industries are facing a workforce and skills shortage. We have identified information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and government as the most critical industries in which to prioritize support.

Do we need a new program?

No. The bulk of funding for career pathways come from a variety of already developed state and national programs. These programs successfully coordinate existing funding for better results and are the most effective way to address Minnesota’s labor shortage and opportunity disparities.

However, due to the customized approach that develops training based on actual employers’ needs and provides holistic support to participants, career pathways programs can be cost intensive. An essential competent of successful career pathways program is a “career navigator” – a career coach assigned to each participant who helps access and coordinate funding, and assists in tailoring programs to meet participant and employer needs. Currently no funding exists to support career navigators.

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