With the drop in job openings reported this summer by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, states like Minnesota have been stepping up efforts to help employers fill jobs as the tight labor market continues. “Employers can’t hire as many great employees as they would like, which makes the all-important topic of workforce development even more important,” Varilek said in the Star Tribune article.
GovWebworks is glad to hear that CareerForce, an employment portal we developed for Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), has been part of the solution. Providing citizens with the tools to prepare for and find the right job, CareerForce connects job seekers with training opportunities and matches their skills with available job openings.
The following success stories from the CareerForce blog evidences the positive influence that the CareerForce team is having in Minnesota, and provides inspiration for other states to emulate.
Training for a new career
Stacy was looking for a new career path with higher wages, so she came to CareerForce in Woodbury for assistance. Leading CareerForce partner Washington County Workforce Development connected Stacy with a training program to help her get a Commercial Driver’s License (often called a CDL). The CDL qualifies her for employment as a heavy truck driver – a high demand occupation with a median wage of $58,460 a year in Minnesota.
“This experience has been awesome. Getting my CDL has given me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and excitement,” said Stacy. “I now have the experience, knowledge and am comfortable driving a semi-truck. Looking forward to my new career as a truck driver.”
Stacy took an intensive 6-week course at Minnesota Commercial Academy at Dakota County Technical
College, where she learned everything from basic vehicle maintenance to advanced driving procedures. “I learned so much about how to maneuver and drive a tractor‐trailer. I was a little nervous at first driving a long distance and being alongside other vehicles and in a construction zone. I had a great teacher who gave me the confidence I needed to keep driving and just focus on the road,” said Stacy. “Most importantly I learned not to give up on myself, to believe I can do anything I put my mind to and be successful at it.”
Stacy expresses her gratitude to Leading CareerForce Partner Washington County Workforce Development and Dakota County Technical College staff, and encourages other women to consider driving a semi. “I am very thankful for this program and all the great people that help coordinate it. I’m glad that I can be a role model to other women in the male‐dominated world of trucking and get chance to have a great career too.”
Moral support when needed
Grace received assistance through Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Dislocated Worker Program at the CareerForce location in Brooklyn Park – and is pursuing a career in health care. Because Grace was eligible for TAA, her tuition to earn a Master of Science in Nursing was paid for 100% by TAA. Now she’s a registered nurse – and aims to become an instructor to help others grow in the field of nursing. Here is the message of gratitude that Grace shared with us:
“I am writing to thank team DEED for going above and beyond during my career transition. Special thanks to Cynthia Wilson (at DEED Dislocated Worker partner HIRED) and Meg Odanga (in DEED’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program) for their unwavering support and for their tremendous encouragement throughout my education. It was a momentous and a challenging pursuit to undertake a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN, RN) but the support I received from the DEED team made life manageable and my education a success story. Cynthia, I thank you for those first meetings – you believed in me when I did not believe in myself!!!
“Because of DEED, I am a Registered Nurse working in Minnesota, and continuing my education as a Post Masters Nurse Educator – graduation date December 2023! Forever grateful!!!!”
Coaches that never give up
Bruce shared how CareerForce helped him, in his own words: “I’m a seasoned/experienced (older) professional that lost my job in January 2023. I signed up with CareerForce in Chaska and was assigned Julia Kennedy as my Coach. She was wonderful!! Very professional, calm and patient and very supportive. She was always sending me emails with links and/or information on job positions and career expos. The emails never stopped from her, because she never gave up on me. Another great CareerForce coach was Gina Meixner at CareerForce – Bloomington. Gina is special too. She helped me tremendously with my LinkedIn page. She also was supportive and told me to keeping trying. Her one quote was, ‘Don’t settle, the right position will come.’ I also want to thank all of the other CareerForce folks who held seminars; they are also special people. So, after five months to the day I was laid off, I landed a position at Emerson in Shakopee as one of their Shipping Supervisors. Thanks to the entire CareerForce MN staff for believing in me and supporting me.”
Help for the print disabled
In a post on how State Services for the Blind Assists Judy in Pursuing a Graduate Degree, Lisa Larges, the Outreach Coordinator of State Services for the Blind details how they assist job seekers who have print disabilities that make reading challenging. Since reading plays a crucial role in various professions and training programs, State Services for the Blind (SSB) Communication Center transcribes materials into audio, braille, and e-text formats to ensure accessibility.
In this success story, Judy, a Master of Social Work student with low vision, approached the SSB Communication Center with a request for the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 TR) for her coursework. A team of 15 SSB volunteers diligently recorded the nearly 1,000-page book in human-voiced narration, offering Judy a more comprehensible alternative to synthetic speech. This accessible audio version, complete with digital markers for easy navigation, not only met Judy’s needs but also garnered requests from other customers. Jeff Behl, who manages Audio Services at SSB, expressed his satisfaction that the work of volunteers has made this vital reference work available nationally, benefiting consumers in various fields. “For Judy, like many others, having access to the books she needs in a format that works for her is critical to both her personal and professional success,” the post concludes.
- Putting Together the Labor Force Puzzle: How Minnesota’s new CareerForce site encourages workforce growth
- All In a Day’s Work: How Minnesota is encouraging labor force participation with help from the Workforce Innovation Fund
- Contact us to learn more about developing workforce tools for your agency