Meeting Ramsey County Workforce Needs in 2022
5 Dec 2022
Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.1% in October 2022, continuing low rates not experienced for decades. Focused efforts, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, by many organizations have aided individuals’ ability to find work. One such organization in Ramsey County is the Workforce Innovation Board of Ramsey County (WIB), one of 16 legislatively-mandated Workforce Boards in Minnesota. The WIB is based on the belief that everyone who wants to work deserves the dignity of having career choices. Its resources strive to develop strategic solutions for workforce challenges existing in Ramsey County by building meaningful partnerships with business, government, economic development, education and community entities. The WIB guides that collaborative power to meet the needs of area employers and job seekers
The WIB’s strategic efforts in 2022 extended into many different arenas, effectively seeking to address workforce needs throughout Ramsey County. These endeavors were accomplished with Ramsey County Workforce Solutions and included partners such as the City of Saint Paul, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and a network of dedicated partner organizations.
2022 was a year where in-person connections gained a foothold in everyday life. After the difficult conditions presented to all with the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and prospective employees were eager to interact in job fairs that had been absent for a few years. With the help of numerous area partners, the WIB was able to offer several in-person job fairs and events, many in partnership with city and county libraries and in neighborhoods with higher unemployment and more significant disparities.
These events included the East Side Job Fair, Rondo In-person Job Fair, Midway Area Job Fair, Roseville Job Fair and a Union Job & Resource Fair. Each event was well attended and brought many job seekers and employers together for valuable face-to-face interactions.
The Fair Opportunities event series aimed to raise awareness among employers about the benefits of hiring individuals involved with the criminal justice system and recognize the value of this often-overlooked talent pool. Each year, thousands of Minnesotans exit incarceration and come back into the community after being involved in the criminal justice system in some fashion. The highlight of the event series was the September Fair Opportunities Welcome Home Party and Fair Chances Hiring Event, which was community-led and sponsored by the WIB.
The October Workforce Recruitment Resources Fair was a collaboration between the WIB and the City of Roseville for area employers to meet organizations with training programs supporting various industries and occupations. About 20 training providers and over 60 local businesses learned how to tap into these pipelines for potential employees. Workforce advancement benefits significantly as employee recruitment professionals know more about local training programs. Resources participating in the Fair included public and private entities offering readiness training, human services and more.
The WIB was involved with several events for youth and young adults. In July, it sponsored the East Side xChange Youth Career Exploration Event. In October, the WIB hosted a table at the inaugural Career Connect Day at the St. Paul RiverCentre, which featured over 1,600 high school sophomores and 90 employers. The WIB provided free transportation for the students to ensure that every Ramsey County high school could participate.
The first Inclusive Workplaces Cohort started in late 2021 and ended in August to support employers in becoming more inclusive workplaces and amplify the diversity of the local community as a tool for economic growth. The second cohort will start in early 2023, with applications due by the end of 2022.
Connecting workforce and economic development
Continuous workforce advancement is necessary for successful economic development. Reducing barriers to economic participation through expanding employment opportunities and training options leads to increasing the overall skill level of the entire workforce, increasing the ability to develop societal and economic well-being. The Ramsey County Means Business website launched in 2019 as a portal for businesses to access the information and resources needed to help them grow and prosper. The site is unique in that it brings together the county’s economic development and workforce development efforts in one place and offers businesses a complete picture of why Ramsey County is a great place to live, work and start or grow a business.
The workforce section of the Ramsey County Means Business website includes several powerful tools for businesses. Job Connect is a free online job board with other supplemental resources, such as labor market reports, a directory of local workforce partners and a training dashboard of free, community-based training programs offered locally. The WIB recognizes the benefits of having a robust website dedicated to supporting the business community and investing in enhancements to the site in 2022.
Months of focus
The WIB highlighted resources, labor market information and events around several local key industries throughout 2022. Focusing awareness on the workforce needs of industry sectors critical to the economic health of Ramsey County helps to elevate workforce advancements across the region. The WIB recognized January recognized Healthcare Month in January, Technology Month in April and celebrated Manufacturing Month in October.
These industry month highlights will continue in 2023 and will be coordinated across the metro area through a regional collaboration with DEED and the other local workforce development areas.
Eye on the future
Many Ramsey County residents found excellent career opportunities in 2022. While unemployment rates are low, the WIB’s efforts are still needed to assist the thousands of individuals facing barriers to gainful employment. Whether you are an employer seeking workers or an individual seeking a job, contact the WIB today for assistance to help meet your workforce goals.