Klobuchar talks workforcePublished 11:20am Friday, February 22, 2013
The jobs are here, but area business and education leaders stressed the need for continued workforce development during a meeting with Senator Amy Klobuchar at PioneerCare on Thursday night.
Klobuchar’s visit to Fergus Falls comes in the midst of a tour of Minnesota businesses and colleges focused on export development, workforce training and education. The trip included a stop at the Central Lakes College campus in Staples Thursday and will begin again Friday with a visit to the Seeds 2000 facility in Breckenridge.
With unemployment still a major issue for the rest of the country, Klobuchar listened to the innovative ideas driving the job market in west central Minnesota.
M State-Detroit Lakes Business Development and Information Technology director Mary Ryan and PioneerCare’s Julie Fietek presented on their partnership with West Central Initiatives in the development of entry level workers who have filled the area’s recent demand for nurses in long term care. The program allows newcomers to be educated and trained while working at PioneerCare and gaining real world expertise.
G.L. Tucker, director of M State’s Manufacturing Technology Custom Training Services, also presented on his similar efforts with industrial careers. The value of these custom training services comes from keeping highly skilled workers in the area, said Tucker.
“We’re trying to connect the dots with kids and show them they can work here, get a job and live here,” he said.
Klobuchar shared her recent experience with industrial production and exports and said she had visited facilities with boxes labeled “Ship to China,” showing a turnaround in the past trend of national imports from overseas.
But the senator sympathized with the problem new demand can have on understaffed businesses and facilities.
“These exports give us a huge opportunity, but also present workforce challenges,” said Klobuchar.
The Democratic senator was also critical of her own efforts to ensure that training services have a sustainable future.
“I don’t think I’ve done enough for loan incentives with these programs,” she said, promising to bring the stories of local success back to Washington in order to gain support.
Concerned over the loss of Minnesotan jobs and businesses to the thriving North Dakota economy fueled by the recent oil boom, Fergus Falls Mayor Hal Leland explained to Klobuchar that more support for local training programs would help keep rural economies strong.
“These programs are an absolute critical resource,” said Leland.
Before leaving for a tour of the new PioneerCare facilities, meeting attendees reiterated their continued need of capable employees willing to be trained through the service programs in hopes that Klobuchar’s influence would help draw people to the area.
“I’ll post it on my Facebook page,” joked Klobuchar, drawing laughter from the participants. “This is a great place to work.”