Here are some recent workforce success stories in northeastern Minnesota...
In 2007 Hibbing Taconite was facing an increasing number of retirees and a shortage of qualified employees. The company turned to NHED colleges to develop a 2-year pre-trade and craft program to train current and future employees to be qualified maintenance mechanics.
For years Hibbing Taconite has had its own training program onsite, but few employees had the technical skills necessary to begin the program. Now the company provides employees with 1 year of online course and 5 weeks of classroom training to qualify for the onsite training program, which lasts another year.
"This program has had a significant impact on our company and is one of many success stories," said Sandy Karnowski, district manager of public affairs in Minnesota. "We've gone on record saying we will replace our retirees with highly skilled workers from local technical colleges - and we've been able to follow through on that promise."
Finding a mechanically-minded operator is less of a challenge for Hibbing Public Utilities these days. That's because the company partnered with Hibbing Community College to launch a new program in industrial systems technology.
After realizing that most entry-level applicants lacked a well-rounded background in operator training, the company worked with the college to design a curriculum that provides a broad base of skills, from mechanical systems to interpersonal skills. "The development of this program is a big step forward for this region and a valuable resource for us, " said Jason Fisher, general manager, who participates on the programs advisory committee alongside other members from industry.
"This is just one example of how the colleges across the range are poised and ready to train workers based on industry needs."