Keeping up with workplace trends

22 May 2017

The nature of work has shifted dramatically in recent years. Much of the changes can be attributed to advances in technology, which help workers become more mobile and less constrained by geographic boundaries. Technology has also resulted in more automation, which can influence job availability.

Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program strives to keep up with the latest workplace trends. As part of this effort, Executive Director Dan Wenner attended a National Association of Workforce Boards conference in Washington, D.C. this spring with board members Carol Anderson and Janet Green.

While in D.C., the CEP group visited with Representatives Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan as well as Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar to ensure legislators are aware of the workforce needs of rural Minnesotans. “Our representatives and senators are keenly aware of the skills gap issues employers are facing in Minnesota,” says Anderson.

Some key trends discussed at the conference were: the challenges brought on by automation, labor shortages and helping youth establish a career path.

As more jobs become automated, the U.S. is experiencing the most profound shift in the economy in a century. With these changes comes tremendous opportunity for mid-level skill jobs, but employers are demanding an increasing level of education for such positions, which makes RMCEP’s services all the more relevant. “RMCEP has the knowledge and expertise to assist people in obtaining the skills they need to qualify for occupations in demand,” says Green.

Blue-collar jobs in industries such as manufacturing, construction and energy are facing labor shortages as many in the workforce head for retirement. But a skills gap also plays a significant role in the problem. A survey showed that such industries are hurt more by lack of skills than automation. Real-time job skills training is being touted as a solution. RMCEP intends to continue to forge connections with employers to stay on top of this trend.

To solve the problem of underemployment among young people, the suggestion was to look at employer needs and “reverse engineer” a career pathway forward to those jobs. This means emphasizing job and career training in high school or earlier, putting more emphasis on channels like social media and directing marketing appeals to parents and grandparents.

According to Wenner, “RMCEP will continue its efforts to reach out to young adults to help them identify careers that not only match their interests but that offer career possibilities.  This will benefit young adults, business and the economy.”

Overall, it was a productive trip, with lessons learned that will ensure RMCEP services continue to evolve with the changing workplace into the future.