Laura Beeth and Connie Ireland of the Governor's Workforce Development
Greater collaboration essential
to maintaining Minnesota's quality workforce
A Civic Caucus
Focus on Human Capital
Interview May 27, 2015
Laura Beeth; David
Broden; Paul Gilje, executive director; Randy Johnson (phone);
Connie Ireland; Sallie Kemper, associate director (phone); Dan
Loritz, chair; Paul Ostrow (phone); Dana Schroeder, associate
director; and Clarence Shallbetter (phone).
In a Civic Caucus
interview with Laura Beeth and Connie Ireland of the Minnesota
Governor's Workforce Development Council the following key points
(1) Living wage jobs now require much
closer ties among education, business, and workforce so that workers
have the opportunities for jobs with future career pathways.
Successful ties will require that educators, employers and others
create closer partnerships than they have had in the past. A single
statewide partnership and vision is important but not sufficient to
implement strategies across the state. Partnerships must occur at
the level of economic regions and localities within the state.
(2) Students' education cannot occur in
isolation. More education is needed in collaboration with employers,
not just in the classroom. Thus, hands-on exposure to the world of
work along with actual employment is essential during E-12 and
(3) The state can't afford to ignore a
demographic certainty that the number of people of working age will
stop growing and possibly decline in fewer than five years.
Consequently, to assure enough qualified workers to fill job
openings, Minnesota must vastly improve education and skills
training for traditionally underserved and under-represented
populations, including minorities, native peoples, the disabled, and
Laura Beeth has over 25
years of experience holding system leadership positions in talent
acquisition, talent management, and workforce development at
Fairview Health Services.
In July 2014, Beeth was appointed board
chair of the Governor's Workforce Development Council. She served as
a business representative on the Council from 2004-2014, chairing
the health care primary care report, co-chairing the career pathways
and serving on sector strategies and P-16 committees.
Beeth is state chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities Healthcare Education-Industry Partnership Council.
Recently, she received the 2015 Health Care Workforce Champion
"Individual Leader Award" from the Minnesota Hospital Association.
In 2004 she received the inaugural Minnesota Vision Award for
Connie Ireland has been the executive
director for Minnesota's Governor's Workforce Development Council
since November 2013. Ireland has well over twenty years of
experience in the public and non-profit sector. Her background
includes extensive financial and developmental efforts in affordable
housing, community development, broadband, and economic development.
During her tenure at the Minnesota
Department of Employment and Economic Development, she held a number
of positions in community and economic development, broadband
development, small business export program director, and workforce
development. Ireland directed special projects during her
tenure with Minnesota Technology, now Enterprise Minnesota ,which
included statewide workforce development for the manufacturing
sector and broadband development.
Background. The Civic Caucus in
a January 2015
recommendations for maintaining a high-quality workforce in
Minnesota. Today's interview focuses on the leadership role the
Minnesota Governor's Workforce Development Council (GWDC) has played
and will continue to play in maintaining the state's workforce
numbers and quality.
Minnesota is facing significant workforce challenges. Beeth
and Ireland highlighted key findings in a recent report
from the Governors Workforce Development Council (GWDC):
Workforce growth is dwindling.
By 2020 workforce growth in
Minnesota will slow to nearly zero, fueled by baby boomer
retirements. More than 620,000 jobs requiring postsecondary
credentials will be vacated and must be filled.
Better pathways for minorities are essential.
and 2010 minorities accounted for more than 80 percent of the
state's population growth. Within about 25 years, minority groups
in the state will represent more than one-half the state's
population. The state will be incapable of maintaining its highly
respected workforce without much more significant involvement of
Workforces must become more productive.
Without growth in
productivity, economic growth will slow down. Central to
increasing productivity will be to increase skills of Minnesotans,
particularly those who have been marginalized. High school
graduation rates for minority students are far below those of
white students, according to
from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
Employers need more job applicants.
Some 68 percent of employers reported too
few applicants for job openings in a recent
Opportunities are emerging prompted by
federal legislation. The GWDC was created in 2001 as a result of
federal legislation; it has been federally financed to date and will
be implementing new federal law, the Workforce Innovation and
Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. GWDC currently has a staff of
2 ½ employees, but relies on numerous state staff across several
agencies to fulfill the statutory requirements for state boards
under the law.
Broad involvement across systems and
geographically is essential. Beeth and Ireland said a key part
of future workforce strategies is broad involvement of (1) educators
at all age levels, in government, non-profit, and for profit
institutions, (2) employers of all types, (3) employer and organized
labor organizations, (4) economic development organizations, and (5)
organizations offering workforce programs.
Strategies for individual regions within
each state, involving all parties within those regions, must be
undertaken, they stressed. A single strategy for the state won't
work because Minnesota has several regional economies that are
dependent on different industry sectors, such as mining in the
Northeast and agriculture in the Southwest.
Beeth and Ireland cited four
federally-backed enhancements that states, regions and localities
should make to strengthen their workforces:
Deeper coordination and alignment across systems and within
economic regions on strategic planning, service delivery, and
Innovation in how services are delivered, including career
pathways and experiential (work-based) learning.
Increased engagement and partnerships with industry to
identify employer needs with opportunities to develop and deliver
training resulting in industry-recognized credentials.
Flexibility in programmatic funding at all levels to better
meet the needs of individuals.
GWDC attaches high priority to career
pathways and experiential learning. "Career pathways" are
connected education and training programs, work experiences and
student support services that enable individuals to secure a job or
advance in a demand industry or occupation. "Experiential learning"
help students gain skills by carrying out and reflecting upon
activities in a real-world context, often in collaboration with an
A GWDC survey revealed about 100 career
pathways and experiential learning activities throughout the state.
All are discussed in a GWDC
that also highlights a new GWDC tool, "Net Impact Framework". This
framework looks at outcomes of program participants compared against
a control group of similar nonparticipants. The framework is
designed to increase transparency and accountability of public
investment in workforce development and to demonstrate value of such
investment for participants and the general public, Beeth and
Ireland said. The characteristics of a "career pathways" approach
Collaboration among employers, education providers at E-12,
postsecondary and adult basic education levels, and workforce
development and community-based organizations.
Alignment of resources, building shared capacity, and
combining services to produce better outcomes.
At least 11 states are exploring or have
adopted this approach, Beeth and Ireland said. One successful
"career pathways" approach in Minnesota is
More "career pathways" initiatives are in early
stages, they said, given that new federal law is requiring changes
in the GWDC, including changes in its membership. Federal law
requires a majority of private sector members. Today 6 of 31 members
of the GWDC board represent employers. In the new board, 21 of 41
members will represent employers and there will be 12 non-voting
With the passage of WIOA, the GWDC will
experience numerous changes including the addition of several new
roles and responsibilities. The law addresses the importance
of the state board including its membership and their role in
advising the Governor on the state's workforce systems. For
Minnesota, this will represent a major change as the board will be
represented by 21 industry leaders from Minnesota's key industry
sectors. This leadership adjustment is expected to assist in
driving changes in our workforce system to better meet the demands
of our growing sectors. The new board also brings cross-agency state
leadership to better align programming and funding.
Minnesota is participating with the
National Governors Association (NGA) in a Talent Pipeline Policy
that the GWDC is working closely with the NGA on aligning education
and training with the needs of the economy. Fourteen states will
participate in a cross-state session with NGA on this topic in
Minneapolis June 22-23.
GWDC helping to address shortage of health
care workers in Minnesota. To help illustrate the work of GWDC,
Beeth outlined its impact in health care. She cited 1,100 current
vacancies in Fairview Health Services, where she serves as system
director of talent acquisition (workforce development, recruitment,
provider recruitment, academic partnerships/clinical coordination,
contingent workforce, and job transition). A report by GWDC in 2011
identified goals and strategies for easing shortages in physicians,
nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
Workforce centers throughout Minnesota
provide important employment assistance. Minnesota's 48
workforce centers, funded primarily by federal dollars,
provide one-stop locations for job seekers and employers. The GWDC
reports that in the year ending June 30, 2013:
More than 92,000 job seekers found work within 90 days of
their last service, with an average yearly wage of more than
More than 347,000 job openings were posted, along with 114,000
new job seeker accounts and 1,900 new employer accounts.
It is important to address
industry-specific sectors. Asked about "career pathways" and
"experiential learning" in specific industry sectors, Ireland said
that a sector partnership is an industry specific regional effort
led by business in partnership with economic development, education,
and workforce development. The Colorado Workforce Development
Council reports that nationally businesses in sector partnerships
experience 41 percent reduction in turnover and 84 percent of these
businesses report significant increases in productivity.
Pathways must keep pace with employers'
changing needs. An interviewer expressed the hope that "career
pathways" will recognize that that job requirements change
frequently. Consequently, it is important that "career pathways" be
structured so that such changes can be reflected regularly in
education and training provided to job-seekers. Ireland replied that
she is confident "career pathways" models will result in strategies
that better meet employers' needs.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce initiative will
be helpful. Responding to a question, Ireland expressed support
a new effort by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce
for employers to be more specific about job qualifications and to
identify those education and training institutions that are doing
the best job of satisfying the qualifications.
There is an enormous challenge in meeting
the need for health care workers.
Beeth said "career
pathways" are urgently needed in health care. She noted a national
Institute of Medicine
to recommend a baccalaureate degree in nursing for 80 per cent of
all nurses by 2020. About one-half of nurses have such degrees
today. "Degree creep" is widespread in professional health care
positions due to the complexity of clinical roles, responsibilities,
and quality standards, she said. Another challenge is that Minnesota
lacks enough primary care doctors, she said. Workforce planning
strategies are underway to address shortages for primary care
providers including doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician
Greater diversity is needed in health care
and other fields.
Beeth noted that Fairview Health Services
has a major presence in the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis,
which also is the location of a very high population of immigrant
people of color. The area is well situated for education with the
University of Minnesota and Augsburg College nearby and for
transportation to Minneapolis Community and Technical College and
Saint Paul College, with two LRT lines. This area offers great
opportunities for individuals to obtain an education while working
in entry level jobs with potential to lead to longer-term, living
wage jobs as education is obtained. The Central Corridor Fellows
(C3F) is a partnership program connecting college health care
students to health care organizations, like Fairview, located on the
Apprenticeships will continue to play an
important role. An interviewer noted that the Civic Caucus
interviewed representatives of Bühler, Inc., recently about
GWDC is fully aware of the projected
absolute shortage of workers.
Commenting on demographers'
projections of zero growth or possibly even an absolute decline in
people of working age in Minnesota, Ireland said the situation will
be eased considerably if we collectively consider opportunities for
employing those individuals with the most significant employment
Individuals with disabilities
Underemployed and long-term unemployed
Members of tribal nations
People of color and other minorities
The state must find ways to address
transportation and housing needs.
Ireland said providing
better alignment and opportunities through "career pathways" won't
be sufficient. In addition, statewide, we need to find better ways
to help people get to and from work, because a job isn't really
available if a person can't get there. The need for affordable
housing within a reasonable distance of available jobs is also
crititcal. Both transportation and housing deficits must be
addressed for individuals to take advantage of opportunities to earn
livable wages and ultimately succeed as productive citizens.
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Interview Group
includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and
business. Click here
to see a short personal background of each.
S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill
Frenzel, Paul Gilje (executive director), Dwight Johnson, Randy Johnson, Sallie
Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne
Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmermany,