here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this interview.
Wildwood, chair, and Bryan Lindsley, executive director,
Governor's Workforce Development Council
An Interview with
8301 Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
Notes of the
Verne Johnson (chair), Audrey Clay,
Kemper, Tim McDonald, David Broden, Janis Clay
Summary of discussion
- Inez Wildwood, chair, and Bryan Lindsley, executive
director, Governor's Workforce Development Council, discuss the challenges
by a looming workforce shortage and skills gap. They discuss the
long-range competitive implications and introduce a report with fifteen
recommendations to strengthen workforce skills and reduce the skills gap.
Introduction of interviewees
is chair of the Governor's Workforce Development Council. Wildwood, a
is the manager of talent acquisition and development for Minnesota Power/ALLETE
and has more than 30 years of human resources and counseling services
experience. She has both an undergraduate and graduate degree from the
University of Wisconsin.
is executive director of the Governor's Workforce Development Council. He
has developed policy recommendations in K-12 and higher education,
workforce development, disability employment, and other related areas. He
directs several grants related to workforce training. He holds a masters
degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School
of Public Affairs.
Governor's Workforce Development Council (GWDC) is a 32-member board, with
a broad-based membership. Twenty-eight members are appointed to three-year
revolving terms by the Governor and four state legislators are appointed
by their respective party heads.
conducts research, develops workforce policy and advises the Governor and
Legislature. The full council meets quarterly while various sub-committees
addressing particular issues meet more frequently.
is to promote innovation in the development of the workforce," Wildwood
said, in order to serve workers of all ages at every stage of their
Council is keen to insure that employers are playing an active role in its
deliberations and that their voices are included in determining what
policies are needed.
bi-partisan with representation from business, government, community-based
organizations, education, labor and members of the state House and Senate.
While it is a diverse group, the Council works hard to reach consensus on
the recommendations it puts forward," Lindsley said.
A mismatch of job skill requirements and workforce preparation.
competitive, employers need workers with the right skills, Lindsley said,
adding that while that concept sounds simple it can become a very complex
problem for employers to solve.
a diagram to illustrate the point. One circle might represent workers with
their existing set of skills; another circle represents the job skills
employers seek. In an ideal world there would be perfect overlap, but in
reality they are not nearly as well aligned as they should be.
this skills gap is widening, he said. Today, 71 percent of workers
nationally are in low-demand jobs or jobs for which there is an oversupply
of labor according to McKinsey Global Institute. Many do not have the
advanced skills needed for jobs of the future. By 2018, 70 percent of
Minnesota jobs are projected to require some form of post-secondary
education, while now only 40 percent of workers have an associate degree
or bachelor's degree. Further, he noted, the baby boomer generation, one
of the more highly educated groups, is retiring.
trends have resulted in two-thirds of employers saying they are having
difficulty finding people with the skills they need," the guests said,
citing a McKinsey Global Institute report. Not only do new entrants in the
job market need higher skills, they pointed out. Incumbent workers, those
now employed, must improve their skills through continuing education to
keep up with the increasing skill requirements occurring in the workplace.
Align job skills with the opportunities for work.
comments by Narayana Kocherlakota, President of the Minneapolis Federal
Reserve Bank, nearly 4 million people could go back to work today if they
had the right training. In
that could translate to a decrease of approximately 2 percent in
Minnesota's unemployment rate.
Enact "All Hands on Deck" policy recommendations.
guests presented a report from the Council called "All Hands on Deck" that
contains 15 policy proposals.
of the report may be found on the Governor's website:
15 proposals, Wildwood and Lindsley highlighted three:
1: Set a
statewide goal for achieving adult credential attainment.
Expand the state's FastTRAC Initiative, a program that helps low wage
workers upgrade their skills and attain post-secondary credentials.
Reduce the cost barriers to gaining post-secondary credentials.
Credentials clearly play a key role in making sure people have the
required education. Council staff members have been working with the
Governor's office on pursuing policy initiatives on the second and third
recommendations. They are talking with legislators and agencies about
needing to measure educational progress and fund outcomes, such as degree
and credential completion.
second proposal, expanding the FastTRAC initiative, Lindsley said the
Council now has the Governor's support to extend from a pilot program to a
statewide effort. Now on twenty MNSCU campuses, FastTRAC pairs assistance
with remedial math, reading and writing skills with instruction in
post-secondary occupational skill training. According to the National
Center for Education Statistics, of individuals who need to take nine or
more credit hours in post-secondary remedial courses, only about 25
percent complete all of their remedial courses and only about four percent
complete a degree or certificate within five years of enrollment. To date,
88 percent of
participants in FastTRAC
credit-bearing integrated Adult Basic Education/postsecondary courses have
successfully completed the integrated course.
Generally higher levels of education are now needed to be successful in
the workplace, Wildwood added. Twenty years ago a person needed to be able
to show up on time and work hard; much of the work was labor-intensive and
even physically demanding, requiring 95% brawn and 5% brain. Now the jobs
have flipped those proportions for the most part.
fifteen recommendations from the report in total call for:
Expanding the Minnesota FastTRAC
Setting goals and developing plans for
increasing adult credential attainment
Integrating state data systems to better
understand and serve working learners
Reducing cost barriers to credential
Ensuring that Minnesota's workforce
development system has the capacity to handle the state's looming
demographic and economic shifts
Developing a state plan to extend the
work life of aging workers
Establishing Lifelong Learning Accounts
to help aging workers finance continuous learning opportunities
Supporting entrepreneurship and small
business development among aging workers
Establishing the State of Minnesota as a
model employer of people with disabilities
Ensuring that Minnesota's WorkForce
and the services they provide are accessible and usable by people with
Helping students navigate the challenges
and opportunities they encounter on their way to career and
Increasing opportunities for students to
pursue post-secondary credit while in high school
Strengthening assessments and supports
to identify off-track students and bring them back on track
Further aligning state academic
standards and teacher preparation with real-world learning
Encouraging schools and districts to
take innovative, comprehensive approaches to preparing students
The Skills@Work initiative
speakers noted that
was once called the Brainpower State. "We know we need that kind of
achievement more than ever if the state is going to compete economically,"
Wildwood said. To focus attention on a skills goal they are joining forces
with Greater Twin Cities United Way to kick off an initiative called
Skills@Work. "The end goal is to close Minnesota's skills gap. Initially
that requires that we make sure everyone in Minnesota is engaged in
understanding what the problem is and working on how best to address it.
Ultimately we want to get to a point where we identify best practices and
replicate those practices statewide."
Report can serve as a vision for workforce development
asked about which states have done a good job at setting a vision for
workforce development, the guests said that in Maryland the governor set
goals, and effectively brought all people involved in the systems around
one table to address the issue.
state is already a leader on workforce development policy. Many states
have taken our All Hands on Deck and used it as a reference, a
guide for their own efforts in this area," Wildwood said.
much at stake.
now has the highest number of Fortune 500 companies per capita, Lindsley
added. The states with the most highly educated workforces will likely be
the most successful economically. To retain our preeminence, much must be
done to assure that our workforce continues to meet the needs of our
chair thanked the guests for meeting with the Caucus on this important