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Posted 03/26/2014

Solving the Skills Gap – MN Public-Private Partnerships

In February’s blog post Minnesota Manufacturing and Education we highlighted several examples of how Minnesota manufacturers, organizations and college and technical programs are working together to educate the future manufacturing work-force.  Today, let’s take a look at a northern Minnesota example in Bemidji. Featured on MPR and in a recent Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association journal is the public-private partnership of Northwest Technical College, Bemidji State, the Department of Employment and Economic Development and TEAM Industries as well as other regional manufacturers. It formed to educate potential and current employees through the Minnesota Innovation Institute. “As the manufacturing industry moves into a post-recession hiring mode, some employers, particularly in rural Minnesota, have struggled to find workers with the right skills. The institute is one way employers and educators are trying to share the burden and move more quickly by using private resources to address training needs.” The specific program in the articles starts with a 2-week introductory class, followed by three to six months of work in one of TEAM Industries’ plants capping off with a second round of training.  Participants learn how to operate CNC machines, read blueprints and make fine measurements. TEAM also has donated machinery and pays for instructors as well as the participants’ wages. The Bemidji Pioneer recently reported, “Increasingly, incoming manufacturing jobs are not simply manual labor positions. Workers need a solid base in mathematics, science and basic technology skills just to be able to do the job. And with those advances in technology, it’s not just the new hires who need training, it’s also current staff who need to upgrade their skills every few years.” Public-private partnerships are playing an ever more important role in manufacturing workforce development. [caption id="attachment_438" align="aligncenter" width="227"]MN Manufacturing Dream IT Do IT Source: dreamitdoitmn.com[/caption]