Skip to main content

Expanding Possibilities. Igniting Opportunities.

in demand today's students, tomorrow's workforce

Minnesota has a labor shortage for many technical careers including information technology, manufacturing, engineering, healthcare and transportation. Yet, too few high school students, and especially students of color, are thinking about good-paying jobs in those fields.

Too many high school students underestimate the amount of education they will need to be successful in their careers. According to a recent article by the Associated Press, ‘45 percent say a high school diploma is good preparation for future success.’ But that thinking is wrong. Labor reports, including the Center on Education and the Workforce-Georgetown Public Policy Institute, indicate that by 2020, nearly two-thirds (65%) of jobs will require some post-secondary training (beyond high school). It has been decades since a high school diploma was enough to earn a good living. “We have to expand possibilities for students when it comes to career pathways and future opportunities,” said Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Robbinsdale Area Schools Superintendent.

Hennepin Technical College and Robbinsdale Area Schools are partnering to expand possibilities for students and ignite opportunities through hands-on, real-world learning.

“We are committed to building a stronger workforce through a lens of innovation, equity and inclusion,” Hennepin Technical College President Dr. Merrill Irving, Jr. stated. “This will be a benefit to employers, students and all Minnesotans.”

Partnership for Transformation

The Robbinsdale-Hennepin Tech partnership goes beyond enrolling students in career tech or post-secondary educational options (PSEO) - both of which are already available. Our administrators are together identifying common barriers and engaging in administrative and teacher training, with a focus on cultural competencies.

“We are working together to leverage existing partnerships and find new business partners to visit with middle and high school students. We have to start talking to students about the articulated skilled trades and other high-demand careers while they are in middle school,” said Tamuriel Grace, Director of Achievement and Integration for Robbinsdale Area Schools. “If we wait until their junior or senior year of high school, they will miss out on too many opportunities,” she said.

“Our mission is to inspire and educate all learners to develop their unique potential and positively contribute to their community,” Dr. Jenkins stated. “There are high-paying, high-demand jobs right here in the Twin Cities which may only require a two-year degree.”

Career-Ready Supports Workforce Development Goals

The Robbinsdale-Hennepin Technical College collaboration supports the goals of the Minnesota PIPELINE Program (Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience) to address current and future workforce needs. Further, it brings higher education and secondary schools into a partnership with employers. It’s time to change the conversation from “How do we find workers with the skills we need?” to “How do we GIVE workers the skills we need to grow into good-paying careers with local employers?”

“With a 99 percent job placement rate for our graduates, Hennepin Technical College is demonstrating that we have created an educational environment that is responsive to the needs of students and industry,” said Dr. Irving. “Our partnership with Robbinsdale Area Schools will provide students with opportunities to learn in-demand skills needed to secure high-paying jobs.”

The High-Tech World of Manufacturing

Design Ready Controls, a Brooklyn Park manufacturer, is already on board. This growing company makes electrical control panels for the heating and cooling industry. Named 2018 Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturers Alliance, Design Ready Controls is focused on its ability to recruit and develop talent.

“Design Ready Controls is redeveloping the process for attracting new employees to manufacturing, creating a new perception for what manufacturing is today — a career, not just a job,” said Mitch DeJong, Chief Technology Officer of Design Ready Controls.

Design Ready Controls provides on-the-job training with peer mentors. Employees also attend events and seminars to continue their personal and professional growth. In partnership with Hennepin Technical College, Design Ready Controls offers free, on-site classes during the workday and provides tuition assistance, making education more accessible and encouraging its employees to further their education. In turn, some of those employees will be teaching the next generation of employees who today are in middle and high school.

By hosting site-visits and offering internships, Design Ready Controls is showing students that a great job doesn’t mean sitting at a desk all day. Career tech classes in high school and technical colleges offer real-world skills and practical knowledge. Students can work with their hands in a clean, high-tech environment which requires continuous learning as technology evolves.

“Our partnerships allow us to invest in our greatest asset, our employees—and future employees. On-site training is a tremendous benefit because we have more flexibility for scheduling employees. With a new skill set and knowledge base, employees are more valuable and can advance their career within the company – then stay with us for a long time,” DeJong concluded. It’s a win-win since Design Ready Controls is also part of a state pipeline program that pays for the full cost of a degree for its employees.

Communicating with Parents: Not Everyone Needs a Four-Year Degree

For many parents, working in manufacturing conjures images of old, gritty industrial shops. Manufacturing today is high-tech, requiring specialized training and hands-on experience. Through their partnership with Hennepin Technology College, Robbinsdale Area Schools students get a jump-start on their careers in high-demand fields.

Next school year, Robbinsdale Armstrong and Cooper High Schools will begin offering Hennepin Technical College classes at each high school, and students can earn dual credits. The first round of classes will be presented to students early second semester in advance of course registration. There will also be a Summer Bridge program open to high school students as a way to explore career pathways.

The expansion of career-tech also shows promise for increasing high school graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the high school graduation rate for Minnesota students who are enrolled in two or more career-tech classes during high school is 92%—nearly ten percentage points higher than the state’s graduation rate. Two-thirds (67%) of those students enroll in post-secondary for further education and career development. And 87% of Minnesota post-secondary students completing a career-tech associate’s degree program were placed in employment within six months of program completion. At Hennepin Technical College, the placement rate jumps to 99%.

Scholarships for High-Demand Fields

Last summer, the state legislature approved $2 million for new college scholarships in Minnesota. Some of the money will help fund 26 scholarships for students to attend Hennepin Technical College. Students who study information technology, manufacturing or health care could qualify for the $2,500 scholarships. That money covers nearly half of a student’s yearly tuition at Hennepin Tech. application information

“Workforce development scholarships are highly desirable because they are open to all students,” says Nairobi Abrams, Hennepin Technical College’s Vice President of Advancement. “The requirement is a 2.0 GPA, and the student taking a minimum of nine credits.”

Last updated by mdibba : 2022-10-24 12:10:41