2/16/2018 10:09:32 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
In our diverse economy, there are many ways to achieve workforce success, and they don't all follow the same straight or orderly path. Employers in Southwest Minnesota now provide over 177,000 jobs, and are actively seeking new workers to fill open positions.
For students and job seekers planning their careers or just looking for a job, graduating from high school is an important first step, but from there the path to workforce success can go in many different directions. For example, students and job seekers can go straight to work, into the military, on to college, start an apprenticeship, or something else, depending on their career goals.
In other words, there are many pathways into the labor market. Some are short-term solutions, while others are long-term decisions. There are costs and benefits to every approach, and there are practical steps that students and job seekers can take to make the most out of their career planning and educational investment. DEED worked with local partners including the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council and the South Central Workforce Council to produce a handout that helps explain the career planning process in more detail.
College is an excellent way to move up career ladders and open opportunities to fields that would otherwise be closed, such as nursing or engineering. Many of these occupations offer high wages and are in high demand in the marketplace. Certain careers – such as dentists, lawyers, and school teachers – require a college education, while other jobs – including cost estimators, sales representatives, and correctional officers – do not. Students and job seekers might be surprised to learn that well over half of all jobs in Southwest Minnesota can be started with a high school diploma or less, and only about one-third require college (Figure 1).
While data show that hourly wages rise for each additional level of education completed, it's also important to see that there are opportunities for jobs that provide livable wages at every level of education, including many that boast strong current and future demand in every region of the state (Figure 2).
To that end, students and job seekers can sort through data from DEED's Occupational Employment Statistics tool to see the highest paying jobs in the Southwest region sorted by educational requirements. For example, there were more than 35 different occupations requiring just a high school diploma that were earning more than $50,000 per year in Southwest Minnesota, including construction equipment operators, sales representatives, first-line supervisors of production workers, office managers, and loan officers. Likewise, median annual wages ranged from $30,000 to almost $75,000 for jobs requiring an associate degree.