Smith Interview Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.
The number one public policy priority for Minnesota is improving the quality of its workforce and simultaneously reducing disparities for people of color, Growth & Justice President Dane Smith says. He notes "truly embarrassing disparities" for blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans in employment, underemployment, higher education attainment, and achievement, starting in the very early years.
Smith notes that the Metropolitan Council forecasts that be 2040, 43 percent of working-age adults in the seven-county Twin Cities area will be persons of color. He points to a March 2015 Itasca Project statement, which stated that the economic future of the state depends on racial equity. He says the statement reinforces the notion of our very future depending on workforce equity for people of color.
And the statement reported that despite robust job growth overall in recent years, the Twin Cities area has one of the largest employment rate gaps (13 percentage points) between white workers and workers of color among the 25 largest metropolitan areas, better only than Detroit and St. Louis. Ongoing discrimination is a root cause of the achievement, income and employment gaps, Smith says.
Drawing from work of the Growth & Justice initiative Workforce Equity for a Competitive Economy, Smith lists eight basic policy tools Minnesota could use to improve workforce equity: (1) Career pathways; (2) Postsecondary remediation reform; (3) Apprenticeships; (4) Evaluation and performance funding; (5) Early college credits; (6) Statewide goals; (7) Cost reduction; and (8) Full employment at livable wages.
Smith singles out specific projects around the state that are attempting to address the issue of workforce equity: Hennepin County's innovative efforts to fill job demand and to diversify its workforce at the same; programs in Itasca County, Northfield and Brooklyn Park that offer a positive environment for students' time outside of school hours; the Northside Achievement Zone in North Minneapolis, which works with low-income families to ensure that their children complete postsecondary education and earn college credentials; and workforce partnership programs in places like Alexandria and Brainerd, which expose high school students to workplaces offering good jobs in their communities.
For the complete interview summary see:Dane Smith interview
Response Summary:Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree):
1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.
2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.
3. Essential to broaden opportunities Minnesota's future economic health is inescapably dependent upon broadening opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
4. State must face growing diversity. The state cannot afford to ignore compelling evidence that people of color will grow to 43 percent of Minnesota's working-age population over the next 25 years.
5. Minorities must be hired at every job level. Employers need to ensure that people of color are proportionately represented at every job level.
6. Increase integrated skills/career training. It is critical that Minnesota substantially increase funding for existing efforts, such as Career Pathways, that integrate basic skills and career training in high-demand fields.
7. Failure at inclusivity is a cause of inequality. A significant cause of inequality in achievement and income is the failure of whites to include people of color in their networks and business associations.
8. Remove unnecessary job requirements. More employers should emulate Hennepin County government and remove unrealistic and unnecessary requirements for job applicants.
9. Do more to raise career expectations. Businesses and schools should do more to raise low-income students' aspirations for future careers.
Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (10)
Phil Griffin (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5)
Dennis Carlson (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
(10) (10) (10)
6. Increase integrated skills/career training. We need a model that includes the masses not just a chosen few.
7. Failure at inclusivity is a cause of inequality. Really good point—inclusivity starts at home and at work.
8. Remove unnecessary job requirements. Hennepin County is doing an impressive job on many, many levels on this issue.
9. Do more to raise career expectations. College Possible, AVID, and in the Twin Cities area, the Wallin Education Partners scholarships, are all doing a great job in this area—they just need much more financial support to increase the numbers of students that really need a boost. Early College efforts also need much more support in our high schools. A current proposal by the Higher Learning Commission to increase licensure requirements for high school teachers goes in the wrong direction.
At the top of this survey it names Dean Smith, who is a legendary basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. My comments are directed toward Dane Smith, a legendary Minnesotan who has worked on behalf of growth and justice issues for decades. As much as I love basketball I'll still take Dane over Dean! Thank you Civic Caucus for continuing to focus on these critical issues for Minnesota.
Bruce A. Lundeen (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (5)
(10) (10) (10)
5. Minorities must be hired at every job level. It is not an employer problem; it is an employee of the employer problem. Look at the example of trades employment, especially the success of black candidates in Union employment and apprenticeships. If it were not for the recent public outcry bringing attention to the matter, there still would be no people of color or women leaving the U.S. Bank Stadium or at road construction sites at end of the workday.
6. Increase integrated skills/career training. Funding does not contribute to increasing self-worth, esteem or the will to succeed. And to assign the problem to a lack of parental interest or skill does little to improve the problem either.
8. Remove unnecessary job requirements. In capitalist economics the corporation is more attuned to the bottom line than the individuals who contribute to improving it. However sordid and improper the example, slavery is creates wealth. Company owners, both shareholders and sole proprietors have had the pleasure [of] easy profits for generations. Now as social costs rise margins will diminish; the additional loads on the money supply is already causing stress.
9. Do more to raise career expectations. This is key. To assign lack of minority achievement on lacking parental interest and role models is indeed fact, but the problem has existed too long.
Alan Miller (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
Vici Oshiro (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
Bob Brown (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (5) (7.5)
6. Increase integrated skills/career training. Along with the things you mentioned, STEM and STEP are already funded pretty well to help kids gain interest and skills in science and technical programs. The amount of money spent in some school districts does not seem to affect educational outcomes. A better allocation of resources in the schools along with a coordinated, focus effort by foundations should be adequate to make a major difference.
7. Failure at inclusivity is a cause of inequality. While some of this failure is deliberate (plumbers' union is a great historic example), much of the problem is simply a lack of understanding by people who do not look beyond their own job and neighborhood. Education, business, government, and religious leaders all have a responsibility to get people to have a broader vision of their community—local, state, and national.
9. Do more to raise career expectations. Don't raise expectations unless you are willing to create opportunities proportionately or you will create a disillusioned group.
I don't have time to discuss all the problems I see, but here are three examples: 1.Most educators are trained in narrow fields and don't have the time, energy, and background to help students develop understanding of the opportunities available to them. 2. In many cases in our post secondary educational institutions the academic staff look down in the technical staff even thought the techies are more likely to provide their students with employable skills. 3 Too often school personnel allow low income and minority students to take easy courses that do little or nothing to prepare them for life.
Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10) (10) (5) (10)
(5) (7.5) (7.5)
Tom Spitznagle (5) (5) (7) (8) (5) (5) (1) (2)
Chuck Lutz (9) (8) (10) (10) (9) (8) (9) (8) (10)
Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (10) (10) (8) (10)
(9) (10) (10)
Paul Hauge (9) (10) (10) (9) (7) (8) (10) (9) (10)
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The Civic Caucus is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Interview Group
includes persons of varying political persuasions,
S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill
Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted
© The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405. email@example.com
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919 ~  Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.