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Growing an inclusive economy is everyone’s job at DEED

2/24/2020 10:25:47 AM

Commissioner Steve Grove

When we reimagined the mission statement of our agency early last year, we were very careful in choosing every word: DEED’s mission is to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone. Each word is designed to convey the spirit of our work at DEED, but it’s those last two words in particular – for everyone – that are the most important.

Minnesota faces some of the worst economic disparities in the country between whites and people of color and Indigenous people. We need to significantly increase our focus on eliminating the structural barriers that prevent people from full employment and wealth-building.

And if we’re going to make real, measurable progress, we have to change the way we do our work.

That’s why our department is drawing a sharper focus on building an inclusive economy under Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan. In the past, we’ve had one team that has championed equity at our department. While having champions is important, we believe that creating an inclusive economy needs to be part of everyone’s work at our agency.

So we’ve asked every major department at DEED to create metrics-driven, annual goals focused on achieving more equitable outcomes in our work.

You can find the complete list of those goals here, released today for the first time.

Equity means we’re focused on outcomes, while recognizing that different populations face different structural barriers and have experienced different histories. At DEED, our equity efforts are centered on outcomes for people facing barriers based on race, disability, and geography.

The outcomes are quite specific, but it’s that level of detail that will help us change how we serve Minnesotans in measurable ways. To give you a flavor for what we’re talking about, here are some examples:

Goal: Increase access to career preparation by groups who face barriers to employment.

  • Increase percentage of CareerForce participants who are from underrepresented communities by 10%.
  • Increase the percentage of veterans served from communities of color from 23% to 30%.
  • Increase the percentage of women veterans served from 15% to 20%.
  • Increase the proportion of applicants to Vocational Rehabilitation Services who are people of color or indigenous people by 5% over last year.

Goal: Increase access to education and resources statewide to grow innovative, scalable businesses.

  • Ensure that 25% of participants in Launch Minnesota activities come from historically underrepresented groups.

Goal: Address the achievement gap for low-income and at-risk youth populations who are underrepresented in Minnesota’s workforce.

  • Increase by 10% the number of underrepresented youth who complete a work experience or internship through Youth Competitive Grants.

Goal: Increase accessibility of materials to individuals for whom English is not their primary language.

  • Complete four quality-controlled productions (e.g. textbook, podcast, or recorded material) in alternative languages for the Communication Center for the Blind.

Again, these are just examples. You’ll find the agency’s 20 equity goals here.

Advancing equity at DEED isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the necessary thing to do. We have the tightest labor market in Minnesota that we’ve had in decades — we need to do more to get people to work in great jobs across the state. We’re tracking several economic trendlines that drive our sense of urgency. Seventy percent of Minnesota’s workforce growth in the coming decade will be people of color. Labor force participation rates of people with disabilities are trending upwards at rates that far outpace the population. Childcare, housing, and transportation — workforce ‘adjacent’ issues — disproportionately affect Greater Minnesota, at a time when growth outside the metro is critical to our success.

That means we can do more to create pathways into good paying, in demand jobs with opportunities for growth for all Minnesotans. These goals are the beginning of DEED’s commitment to building an internal culture that supports equity.

In addition to setting these annual equity goals, we have a long-term vision for a more equitable workforce development system in Minnesota, and that’s why we restructured our Office of Economic Opportunity, led by Maureen Ramirez. The office works with all DEED programs and services to reduce the barriers to employment for all Minnesotans and grow the state’s workforce from underrepresented communities.

Our goal is to work better — and work together — across our wide-ranging agency.

Together, with our partners, we’re working with community members across the state to identify the next steps we should take to advance equity through multiple strategies throughout Minnesota. The equity goals we are working toward now are just the beginning of how DEED plans to expand economic opportunities and drive prosperity for all Minnesotans.

– Commissioner Steve Grove

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