Solving the Workforce Puzzle

Putting Together the Labor Force Puzzle

How Minnesota's new CareerForce site encourages workforce growth

Minnesota has a new and improved resource to grow its labor force. Designed to reach discouraged workers, the unhappily employed, and unemployed populations, CareerForce provides skills and support to rejoin or stay in the workforce.

CareerForce is taking the current labor shortage by the horns in the effort to fill jobs and encourage continued job growth. Launched initially in late 2018, the CareerForce portal is now ready for prime time.

Focusing on the underemployed

With the unemployment rate maintaining record lows (at 3.7 percent nationally), states have been focusing on the underemployed to grow the Labor Force Participation rate (currently at 70 percent) and meet increased job growth. In the case of states like Minnesota, it’s a balancing act between fostering jobs and workforce growth in unison.

“Diminished workforce growth has been slowing job growth in Minnesota for the past two years,” notes a March press release from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This highlights an issue that DEED has been working hard to turn around with its CareerForce portal, a recipient of 100 percent funds as part of a Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) $6 million grant from the Department of Labor.

When companies fail to find the employees they need, they either divert hiring to other parts of the country (for national companies), or retract their ambitions, which in turns stifles economic growth. As noted in a previous post on the topic, All in a Day’s Work, “New and innovative techniques are required to reach potential workforce populations and continue the rise in labor force participation.” is one such tool that seeks to match underemployed or discouraged workers with more sustainable employment to fill open jobs.

How CareerForce can help

As a one-stop online portal, CareerForce connects job seekers with resources and training in the areas of high projected job growth, and provides employers with ways to attract new talent. It also includes access to career services provided by community partners.

As detailed by GovWebworks project manager, Hellen Fitzpatrick, CareerForce is specifically designed for:

  • Career seekers – to identify the skills, experiences, and services that can help them become more employable, find a better job, or make a career change
  • Employers – to become knowledgeable in regional labor market information, industry sector partnerships, and other informative resources for attracting, hiring, and retaining employees
  • Community partners – to reach more stakeholders to assist with career related issues
  • Workforce staff & partners – to service their constituents and make Minnesota more prosperous
  • All users – to make the data behind labor force issues more user friendly and understandable

Best-case scenarios

For some Minnesotans like Beth, a former Navy Medical Corpsman employed as a registered nurse, her current job was not a fit. As noted on the CareerForce blog, Beth said she was unable to spend the amount of time with her patients that she thought they deserved and she felt pressure to generate numbers.

Instead of suffering in silence or becoming unemployed, Beth consulted with CareerForce. A Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist was able to help her update her resume and come up with talking points to explain why she wanted to change jobs. After posting her resume, she received an interview for a job as a private duty nurse with a non-profit agency, and then an immediate offer for employment. She is now able to spend more quality time with her patients and is happy in her work.

In another example on the blog, CareerForce helped Sean find resources to complete his diploma and get a job after he dropped out of school to support his mother. Sean’s counselor connected him with work training and the adult learning center, as well helped him get high school credits for his job, which made it possible to get his diploma. He was then able to receive his boilers license and a job as a full-time custodian at a school in his community.

In summary

“Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains low and the labor force participation rate remains high,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove in a July press release. “This continues to suggest that the state’s labor force is at or near capacity – and businesses will continue to find it challenging to hire and retain workers.”

The plan is that, with continued effort by CareerForce, there will be more workers available to fill the openings. Certainly, if the hard work by DEED is any indication, Minnesota is setting an example for the rest of the country.

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