The three people featured in this issue's cover story by DEED intern Lexi Boyer highlight the rewards of jobs in precision metal manufacturing. These aren't your grandfather's factory jobs. They require high-tech knowledge, critical thinking and the ability to solve problems - skill sets that are increasingly valued in today's challenging manufacturing environment.
Still, the industry continues to suffer from a negative stigma, with many parents steering their children away from manufacturing careers in favor of four-year college programs.
Altheha DrePaul, who grew up in Guyana in South America and later moved to Minnesota, experienced that thinking firsthand as a youngster. "Growing up, even our parents were instilling us with 'be a doctor, be a lawyer, or be a teacher,'" she says. "We can be professional manufacturers. It's a career. We just need to share it and let our experiences be known."
After training in the M-Powered program, DrePaul was hired as a machine operator at Fridley-based E.J. Ajax and Sons in 2007 and is still employed there today as a key account manager. Hopefully, her story and the experiences of two other workers featured in this issue will help dispel the myth that manufacturing offers only dirty, dangerous, dead-end jobs.
In other stories, Ellen Bendewald looks at which groups will benefit the most from the state's new minimum wage law, while Alessia Leibert examines which fields offer the best pay and job opportunities, based on data from DEED's new Graduate Employment Outcomes tool. Mohamed Mourssi Alfash and Kevin Ristau dig deeper into Job Vacancy Survey data, and Tim O'Neill and Brent Pearson look at job growth in the STEM sector.
All of these stories reveal something about the Minnesota labor market, whether it's job opportunities, pay or industries with growth potential. It's the kind of information that Trends excels at covering and why we're worth picking up each issue.