Thursday, October 14, 2010

Exclusive: Hillsider asks gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton about Duluth's workforce and economic recovery

Our question: How do you perceive Duluth's workforce meeting the required skills for economic recovery from this recession?

Mark Dayton - DFL candidate for Minnesota governor

Underemployment and skill mismatches are big problems for Duluth and the entire state as a whole. Duluth, and the Northeast region, has fared worse than the state as a whole in recent years. To make matters worse, as we come out of this recession, the types of jobs that become available require a much different skill set than what was needed before the recession.

A 2005 UMD study on underemployment in the region found that, “23.3 percent of those currently employed have one or more valid certificates or degrees that are not used in their current job.”

The percentage of healthcare jobs in Duluth is almost double the state average. Meanwhile, the loss of manufacturing has hit northern Minnesota particularly hard. As a result, there are opportunities in the health care industry for skilled workers, but large numbers of unemployed workers from the manufacturing sector don’t have the needed skills to fill these positions.

The Dayton administration will partner with local communities to identify these gaps and direct investments to workforce development as needed. The Dayton budget will prioritize higher education so students will have access to affordable education that is targeted to career opportunities in the local economy. Only through these partnerships can we identify the needs and direct the appropriate investments in training.