Hennepin Tech combats skilled worker shortage

6:05 PM, Mar 19, 2012   |    comments
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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - The jobs are plentiful, but the workers are few.

"It's a challenge for employers in manufacturing," said Erick Ajax, Co-owner of EJ Ajax, a company which produces appliance and electronic parts.  "We are dealing with a workforce shortage."

According to a recent study done by Enterprise Minnesota, more than 50-percent of employers say it's difficult to find qualified labor.  It' a number that's up from last year.

"We want to address that," says Rich Kelly with Hennepin Technical College. "We want to fast track individuals into careers."

Thanks to a $2.6 million federal grant, the school's M-Powered initiative has expanded. The program, now it's second year, partners with industry leaders and gives adults an opportunity to learn specific skills for specific careers.

"We are focused on getting people highly skilled, high wage jobs," says Kelly. "We've heard from our larger companies that have 30 to 50 job openings right now, but they now can't find the individuals to do them."

Kelly says in today's manufacturing world, employees must know math, science, basic engineering, and hi-tech machinery. The goal of M-Powered is to effectively teach those skills and find graduates careers. Currently, the program offers a 93 percent placement rate.

"We are looking forward to the future of this program," he says. "We think we can go even further with the numbers we've already seen."

Through M-Powered, Erick Ajax has already found over a dozen qualified workers.

"It's truly making a difference in helping us reduce the unemployment rate," said Ajax. "It's helping to solve the worforce shortage."

Henneping Tech is the only school in Minnesota to offer a program like M-Powered and it's one of only a dozen like it in the country. 

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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