President’s Letter: Workforce Development

March 12, 2018 No Comments
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Taking Action To Find More Workers

by Tom Chacon

toc_departments50pxIt is hard to believe that we are almost through the first quarter of 2018. The economy has been improving steadily, and I hope everyone has been able to take advantage of the upswing. Of course, the increase in business means we need to address the need for qualified workers, or lack thereof.

For many years, the MPMA and the MPMA Education Foundation have been working hard to make advances in workforce development. We are just a small part of what’s going on throughout the state, which includes programs to help individual companies start training programs and the establishment of scholarships focusing solely on the trades.

The MPMA Education Foundation recently partnered with Minnesota State and 15 technical colleges to establish a financial partnership that supports the new Workforce Development Scholarship program. Initially funded by a $1 million appropriation from the 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature, the Workforce Development Scholarships will be available to new students enrolling at any Minnesota State college in associate degree, diploma, or certificate programs that prepare graduates for careers in high-demand sectors including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, and information technology. Business and industry partners have the opportunity to supplement these scholarships through private contributions.

We were pleased to present a $30,000 check to Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Chair Michael Vekich at a luncheon on January 23, that was also attended by presidents of various Minnesota State colleges. We are hoping that our support of advanced manufacturing programs sends a message to our legislators that this type of program is needed, and we will support future funding to keep the momentum going. These scholarships will be awarded sometime in May and MPMA’s contribution will be used to supplement scholarships offered to students entering advanced manufacturing programs.

“Minnesota State delivers the highest value, most affordable higher education option in the state,” said Malhotra. “This very generous contribution from the MPMA will make the Workforce Development Scholarships go even further for our students and will advance our ability to meet the pressing need for a talented workforce for manufacturers in Minnesota.”

Those of you who attended the Annual Meeting in October heard from our keynote speaker, Deon Clark, about how to engage a new workforce demographic, which could include underprivileged and underutilized people in our society.  We are currently talking with Mr. Clark about how we could partner with him and to do this with little or no cost to our members.

Mr. Clark’s program, Legacy I3, is a proven concept that has worked in Phoenix and other areas throughout the country. He is currently working with other companies in Minnesota to train students in other industries. His philosophy is pretty simple and straightforward. He recruits students who he feels are employable and trains them and their parents on what it means to be a responsible person and employee.

What he doesn’t do is train these students in the actual field that they will be going into. That is where member companies that wish to participate come in. They train and mentor these potential employees in specific career fields so that when Deon’s training is done, mentor companies have people that they can hire and know that the students have been vetted and trained. In manufacturing, the students receive an industry-recognized credential as part of the training.

With these initiatives, and others like the Youth Skill Training program, members of the MPMA are doing all that they can to help develop a younger skilled workforce to fill our current and future needs.
With all that being said, I would like to thank all the donors to the Education Foundation, our matching donors at the Annual Meeting, and all the attendees at our various fundraisers throughout the year. Without your financial support, it would not be possible to fund these initiatives. Thank you!  pm_endmarkgrn-e1320337194716

Tom Chacon is from S & T Chacon LLC. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2018 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Nancy Huddleston, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing Journal.


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