underemployed for jobs that will emerge as workforce ages
Civic CaucusFocus on CompetitivenessInterview
January 18, 2013
Notes of the Discussion
In the Twin Cities area between 2010 and
2040 there will be an absolute decline of 272,000 in number of working
age whites and an absolute increase of 445,000 in working age people
of color. Summit Academy OIC offers highly-focused, time-limited
training in two fields that will definitely be hiring more workers,
construction and health care, according to Summit's leader, Louis King
II. About three-fourths of Summit graduates are placed in jobs today.
Summit stresses the importance of getting underemployed persons
permanently attached to the work world, including the essential
element of networking, from which people of color were largely
excluded in years past.
Introduction of the Speaker.
Dan and Paul welcomed and introduced
Louis King II, president and CEO of Summit Academy OIC,
Minneapolis. Summit Academy is a non-profit, educational and
vocational training institute that empowers Twin Cities residents to
become self- reliant, employed members of their community. King has
over 20 years experience in education, youth development and workforce
development. He has successfully founded and operated programs that
have focused on youth ranging from ages 10 to 24.
In 1996, King was elected to the Minneapolis
School Board, and completed his four-year term. He is currently on the
boards of St. Thomas Academy, Seed Academy/Harvest Prep School, and
the Robins Kaplan Miller Ciresi Foundation. He has held leadership
positions in several community organizations such as the Bryant
Neighborhood Organization and the Glenwood-Lyndale Community Center,
where he served as President of their respective Boards.
King is a graduate of Morehouse College with
a B.A. in Political Science. Prior to joining Two or More in 1993,
King served in the U.S. Army for 10 years, achieving the rank of
During King's comments and in discussion
with the Civic Caucus the following points were raised:
1. Summit Academy focuses on two
occupational growth areas.
Summit's results-oriented programs
focus on high-demand, high-growth industries in construction and
health care. Program options are tailored to the needs of students,
communities and employers.
2. Good placement and compensation results
for Summit grads.
About 76 percent of Summit grads get jobs
now, King said, with an average starting salary of $25,000 a year. In
construction starting salaries can be $30,000 to $50,000, he said.
3. 20-week training program.
students dedicate themselves to a 20-week, full-day training program
that integrates theory and hands-on learning. They are taught by
instructors experienced in the industry and by training partners who
provide real-life knowledge of what it takes to succeed in today's
competitive workforce. Students are held to stringent expectations on
attendance, behavior and skills. About 70 percent of students are
African-American; 10 percent, Caucasian; 5 percent, Native American; 2
percent, Hispanic, 2 percent, Asian-Pacific Islander, 1 percent
Somali, and 10 percent other. The male-female ratio is 65% to 35%.
About 46 percent of students is 20-29 years old; 29 percent, 30-39
years old; 16 percent, 40-49 years old, 8 percent, 50 and up, and 1
percent, under 19.
4. Continued growth targeted in enrollment,
graduation, and job placement
. In the most recent three-year
period, during a time of economic stress and recovery, Summit
enrollees increased to 1,317; graduates, to 698, and placement in
jobs, 483. Summit has set targets for the year 2015 of 1,000
enrollees, 700 graduates, and 560 placements. Summit will expand to
satellite locations, using union and MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges
and Universities) infrastructure, King said.
5. Government grants, contributions,
financial aid and tuition are main sources of financing
the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, Summit Academy balanced a $4.4
million budget, which included $1.9 million in government grants, $1.0
million in contributions, $0.9 million in financial aid and tuition,
and $0.4 million in other income.
6. Current focus on construction and health
care based on demographic realities.
King noted that in 2002
when Summit decided to focus on construction and health care, it was
fully aware of the growing need for maintaining physical
infrastructure (roads, bridges, transit), an increasingly aging
workforce in construction, and, with more workers retiring, an
increase in the need for health care.
7. Demographic changes offer even greater
employment challenges and opportunities in the next several years.
Using data prepared by Wilder Research, King noted that a dramatic
shift in the nature of the Twin Cities area workforce is beginning and
will accelerate over the next 27 years. In 2010, 80 percent of the
working-age population in the Twin Cities area (1,262,000) was white,
and 20 percent (317,000) people of color. In the Twin Cities area
between 2010 and 2040 there will be an absolute decline of 272,000 in
working age whites and an absolute increase of 445,000 in working age
people of color.
Meanwhile, Twin Cities population over 65
will grow substantially for both whites (from 282,000 in 2010 to
595,000) and people of color (from 25,000 in 2010 to 175,000 in 2040).
The portion of the population over 65 in the Twin Cities area will
grow from 11 percent to 21 percent.
8. Long-standing wide disparity in
employment and education between whites and people of color.
National surveys have shown over the years that Minnesota consistently
is among the top 10 states in education and employment. However, the
overall statistics have masked the poor record in education and
employment for people of color, King said.
The proportion of adults working in
Minnesota varies significantly by race, according to Wilder data,(
ranging from 79 percent for whites to 59 percent for U.S. born
African-Americans, and 54 percent for American Indians. The 21
percentage point gap between whites and African-Americans is the
largest of any state in the nation, according to Wilder. In education,
there is also a very signifcant gap: 86 percent of third grade
non-Hispanic white students tested proficient in reading, compared to
58 percent of black students.
9. Isolation from well-established social
networks of white workers is a major factor.
The presence of
social networking is key in improving employment and education, King
said. In the past the minority population made up such a small portion
of Minnesota's population that they weren't a significant part of
social networks that helped to funnel workers into available jobs.
It's not so much overt racism by whites as simply the fact that there
were so few minority applicants, they were easily ignored, he said.
10. Demographic changes illustrate major
opportunities for people of color
. However, demographics in
Minnesota are changing rapidly, King said. Major changes in the
state's work force will accelerate as the baby boom generation
retires, he said. As data referenced above illustrates, all growth in
Minnesota employment to 2040 will come from people of color. Summit
Academy has designed its curriculum in specific response to the
demographics, he said.
White workers have been dominant in
construction employment. However, large numbers of construction
workers, part of the baby boom, are or will be retiring shortly.
Meanwhile the Twin Cities area and Minnesota have a major backlog in
the need to maintain and improve public infrastructure (roads,
bridges, transit, water and sewer). Infrastructure improvement is a
necessity, not a matter of social equity, he said. Thus demand for
construction workers will continue and grow. King said he is scheduled
to visit today with officials responsible for construction of a new
professional football stadium in Minneapolis.
Simultaneously, growth in the retired
population indicates growing need for health care workers. These
factors prompted Summit to focus its training on construction and
11. Need for a new understanding about what
kind of training is needed.
A participant observed that jobs
everywhere of all levels seem to be requiring more skills. King
replied that Summit works closely with unions and employers to make
sure its training fits the job.
But training is much more than the
particular requirements of a job. Summit helps change its students'
entire attitude toward work. Summit sees its job as human capital
12. Lack of preparation in public school
Many students come to Summit poorly prepared based on their
educational background in the public school. Unfortunately Minneapolis
has what he considers two school systems within the same structure.
One system is largely successful in educating middle class whites in
southwest Minneapolis. The other, mainly on the North and Northeast
side of the city serves the concentrations of students of color, but
isn't doing a good enough job of preparing kids for the world of work.
It's extremely difficult to get the system to change.
Rather than engage in unnecessary conflict
with the school system, King said one needs to build competition.
Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters help in this effort.
And Summit itself is benefitting as individuals and families discover
what it can offer than wasn't offered in the public schools. Summit
works very hard on reduction of social isolation of its students and
believing in their potential for success. However, this means hard
talk is sometimes necessary : "You want to join my club? Pull up your
pants; take your cap off; smile." There is no "tap dancing" around the
real issues, King said. A different value system needs to be instilled
often before students can be successful in the work world.
13. Will people be able to get from their
homes to where the jobs are?
The group focused on the ability
of job-seekers to travel to and from locations where jobs are
available, in a reasonable time. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area's
residential and employment locations are widely dispersed, a
participant noted. Is the metro area doing all it can to help its
residents get from home to work? It doesn't help a job seeker without
a car to get hired if the job location isn't near bus or rail lines
that also run near the job seeker's home. King replied that
construction of light rail lines between the Mall of America and
downtown Minneapolis, between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St.
Paul and between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, combined with feeder
buses to light rail, will help a great deal. Successfully offering
transportation options for workers whose homes and job destinations
aren't near bus or rail lines--and who are likely to work in many
different locations during their careers--would seem to call for
better flexibility in the transit system, a participant opined.
14. Getting the individual attached to the
King was asked about the relatively short time,
20 weeks, of the training, compared to other training programs
requiring at least a year and probably more. King emphasized that
Summit is deliberately short term, to get trainees the basic skills
they need and to quickly connect to the work world gaining the
necessary networking connections that will help them find appropriate
On behalf of the Civic
Caucus, Dan thanked Louis King for meeting with the Civic Caucus
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and
business. Click here
to see a short personal background of each.
David Broden, Janis Clay, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,
Jan Hively, Dan Loritz (Chair), Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky,
Tim McDonald, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Wayne Popham and