The Globe: Replenishing the labor force

Alyssa Sobotka - September 28, 2019

WORTHINGTON — Talented youths remain a highly sought-after product to fill an increasing number of job vacancies across southwest Minnesota and the Midwest.

This week, a record-number of exhibitors representing a variety of industries got in front of sophomores from high schools across the region to “plant the seeds” of a fruitful career.

A common theme among the 88 exhibitors during Wednesday’s Southwest Minnesota Career Expo at Minnesota West Community and Technical College was the need to react and further prepare for the impact caused by losing the baby boomer generation to retirement.

“The thing about losing the baby boomer (generation) is we lose all that experience and knowledge that goes with them,” said David Lasserre, president of the Millwright and Machine Erectors Local 548, which has approximately 40% of its members set to retire within the next 10 years.

That said, if there’s one silver lining, it’s that the “opportunity is now” for young people to get started in many hands-on careers, Lasserre said.

Multiple exhibitors representing manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, construction and other skilled labor industries across the area reported consistently experiencing job vacancies..

Diesel technicians was mentioned by numerous companies as a void, which according to Elizabeth Simmons, a recruiting member of Harrison Truck Centers, is a shortage being experienced throughout the country.

Recognizing that need, the Minnesota State system has developed a Transportation Center of Excellence, which aims to partner educational institutions with industry to enhance career exploration in a variety of transportation sectors.

“Every single one of these industries is hiring and the outlook is that they’ll need to continue to hire,” said Minnesota State Transportation COE Director of Outreach Steve Hoemberg of transportation sectors, which include automotive technology, aviation, collision repair technology, diesel, marine and power sports, technology education, specialty and professional truck driving.

Hoemberg said he’d like to see the stigma changed and for young people to learn the reality —careers in the transportation sector are fulfilling and meaningful.

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