U of M policy fellows look into skilled labor shortage

Like the construction industry, agriculture, health care, information technology and transportation employers are struggling with a labor shortage.

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With so many industries affected by the lack of skilled labor, the topic was ripe for study by the University of Minnesota’s Policy Fellows. A part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, this program is one of the country’s most respected programs for public affairs professionals.

Since November 2018, this diverse group of policy professionals has worked on finding ways to help address the lack of skilled labor and connect underrepresented populations to technical careers.

In early May, the policy fellows hosted a roundtable on the state’s skilled labor shortage at the office of Housing First Minnesota, bringing together trade associations, nonprofits, government, educators and private industry to share best practices and challenges.

The attendees also discussed how collaboration and partnerships between different organizations can yield positive results.

“It was so great to see the diversity of employers and skilled builders in the room,” said Lucas Sjostrom, policy fellow and president of Minnesota Milk. “These are people that I see at the Capitol or are making their communities stronger, but having all that brainpower in one room was really rewarding. I look forward to continuing the momentum.”

Partnerships between education and industry emerged as a common theme from this session, according to Nick Erickson, policy fellow and staff at Housing First Minnesota.

“One of the biggest takeaways for the construction industry was the importance of forging partnerships with career and technical programs at local high schools,” Erickson said.

The policy fellows presented their findings at the University of Minnesota’s Policy Fellows final session on June 7.