Ground Level

Minnesota's Skills Gap

Will enough Minnesotans have the right skills to fill the jobs needed to keep the state's economy humming in the coming decade? That question has been vexing employers, higher education officials, economic development experts and others for several years.

Answers to it vary with the field and with geography. But many of those people are trying to make sure residents have the right opportunities, employers have access to the right people and public entities play an appropriate role. This Ground Level exploration shows how the state, employers, private trainers and others are grappling with why some jobs in Minnesota are hard to fill.

There's no question some employers have difficulty filling jobs. Lack of workers with the right skills is a reason but not the only one, says a state report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Read the report: PDF: Hiring Difficulties in Minnesota: Select Nursing, Engineering, and Production Occupations


Explore the DEED Report

A March 2013 report by the Department of Employment and Economic Development sheds new light on the so-called skills gap in Minnesota. These are some of the key graphics included in the report, which draws conclusions from a survey of employers who had 1,500 jobs open in 2012. Nearly half of those were considered “hard to fill,” but the reasons for that difficulty varied. The study focused on three job sectors: nursing, engineering and manufacturing production.

All images from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development report PDF: Hiring Difficulties in Minnesota: Select Nursing, Engineering, and Production Occupations

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We identify topics that are significant and complex and that play out uniquely at the local level. We want to explore those issues in which people taking action in their communities make a difference and can serve as guides for others.

Ground Level launched in early 2010 and shines a light on a variety of topics, from the growing complexity of Minnesota's local food system to cities preparing for new fiscal realities, from exurban growth in Baldwin Township to the quest to expand broadband access across the state.

We experiment with coverage on a variety of platforms. This includes text, audio and video online, of course - the Ground Level blog, a series of topics pages and social networking, for example. It also includes on-air coverage, public forums both virtual and real-world and collaboration with community-based media.

Our audience consists of Minnesotans interested in community life, particularly those who are taking an active part in it or helping others do the same.

Ground Level is very much an experiment -- in finding ways to learn about and tell stories, in working with other organizations, in walking up to the line between providing insight and advocating specific actions. Our goal is to inform and give people the ability and incentive to engage with their community. We invite your feedback and your ideas, via the blog, twitter at @MPRGroundLevel, phone calls, emails, whatever. Join us.

About the team:

Dave Peters

Dave Peters directs MPR's project on community journalism, looking for ways Minnesota residents are making their towns, cities and neighborhoods better places to live. He joined MPR News in 2009 after more than 30 years as a newspaper and online reporter and editor. Contact Dave