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Job Fair

Doherty Staffing is hosting a Job Fair at the Montevideo WorkForce Center on July 7, 2016, from 8:00 – 4:30.

Day shift positions in Montevideo – Process Operators/Solderers

For further information, contact:

Ryan Vesey, Marshall Office

507-822-6145 (cell) or


Building his future

June 21, 2016
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent       

MARSHALL – Imagine being born in a refugee camp. Imagine being 7 years old and you are suddenly an orphan. Imagine being 17 years old and never having slept in a bed. Pretty hopeless, right?

On the contrary, after coming to America when he was 14 – knowing no English – Hajir Dahir of Marshall received his high school diploma last month and has a bright future ahead of him.

Dahir, who is considered a Somali even though he has never stepped foot in Somalia, was born in 1996 in Dhagazley, Kenya, in a refugee camp. His family had fled war and famine in Somalia. His father died when his mother was pregnant with him. Dahir is the youngest of 10 children – five boys and five girls. They lived in a hut with mats on the floor. His mother died when he was 7. Sometimes, when it hurts too much to talk about, he just tells people who ask where his parents are that “they’re in Africa,” he said.

Article Photos

Photo by Karin Elton

Hajir Dahir presented his success story June 2 at a Workforce Council meeting at the MERIT Center in Marshall. Dahir is sitting next to Eriann Faris, youth program manager for Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, who played a large part in his success.

In 2010, Dahir, and three sisters arrived in the United States and first lived in Rochester for one-and-a-half years before moving to Willmar where two of the sisters stayed, then he and another sister moved to Faribault and finally to Marshall. A brother joined them in Marshall in 2015.

Dahir lived with family members for a while until that fell apart and he was left homeless. He found a place to live with the help of local agencies. Going to high school, trying to learn English, to fit in with a new culture, climate and trying to work was overwhelming at times, but with the support of those he considers his new family he has persevered.

He was helped by a variety of school and government officials including the English Language Learners staff at Marshall High School – in particular Vickie Radloff – as well as Eriann Faris, youth program manager for Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, and Leanna Ginocchio, administrative support for Marshall Area Technical and Educational Center and Michelle Noriega, MA-TEC principal.

“They are nice, welcoming and show a lot of respect,” Dahir said. “They are like my mother.”

Whenever something was bothering him, Dahir said, he would sit down with Radloff and “she would come up with an idea.”

The journey has been rocky. Like many young people, it is hard to get up in the morning to attend school. After being told his absences were causing him to fall behind, he then realized the importance of a steady record of attendance.

Needing money to help support himself, but having limited English skills, Dahir was referred to the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council Youth and Young Adult Programs to gain work experience. In the summer of 2012, Hajir was placed in a work experience position at Goodwill in Marshall where he gained an understanding of work readiness skills such as attendance, punctuality, teamwork, communication skills and problem solving, Faris said.

He then worked at the high school as a custodian “with the caveat that his attendance needed to be perfect to allow him to continue in the work experience placement,” said Faris. “In addition, he was required to work with his ELL teacher to get his homework completed timely and efficiently. The work experience proved to be the motivator, as Hajir was on time to school and in his seat every day.”

There was a time when Dahir was ready to quit school and just work full-time. Faris convinced him that he needed a diploma to get a better job. Another roadblock came up when Dahir was told he was falling behind in his math credits and wouldn’t be able to graduate from MHS. He took it upon himself to enroll at MA-TEC, attended summer school and was able to catch up on his math.

“We were worried about him attending a school without his ELL supports, but it turned out to be the best thing for him,” said Faris.

In May he had enough credits to receive a diploma.

Ginocchio said she has never seen someone so excited to receive the cap and gown wrapped in plastic.

“He just lit up,” she said. “He worked so hard. He was thrilled to be able to graduate.”

“I was excited,” he said of receiving his diploma. “No one can ever take it away from me.”

What he’s done is achieve the American dream, Radloff said.

“He became his own advocate,” she said. “He thought, ‘this is what I need to do to be successful.”

Dahir is continuing to work part-time at MA-TEC as a custodian where he said he is learning a lot and it also has helped him learn how to clean his own home.

Faris assisted Dahir in getting his citizenship card, which turned out to be a learning experience for her because his brother’s birthdate was confused with his so that had to be straightened out with advice from the immigration law center. Fortunately, his brother found Dahir’s birth certificate and the problem was resolved – after a lot of paperwork.

“He went from being perceived as 19 to his real age of 17,” said Faris. “He is the first student refugee that I’ve worked with.”

Before the birth certificate correction, he was at risk of aging out of the school system, because MA-TEC only goes through age 21.

Immediate goals for Dahir include enrolling in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at MA-TEC. He will need extra help from Southwest ABE in getting his math and reading levels raised in order to qualify for the CNA class, said Faris.

His short-term goals include attending Minnesota West Community Technical College to get a law enforcement certificate. He would like to become a police officer because he wants to help people and thinks his Somali and English skills will be useful. He also knows a little Swahili, which is the language spoken in Kenya.

“Without the support that I’ve received I don’t know what I would do,” said Dahir.

Faris said it was mostly him.

“He had the drive and motivation to learn,” she said. “He wants to contribute to his community.”


CNA program: layers of success

October 6, 2015

By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL – Marina Monzon, a mother of six and grandmother to two, said she felt her future would just be one of “staying at home” until her sisters, both certified nursing assistants, encouraged her to participate in the free CNA class offered by Southwest Adult Basic Education.

Now, she said, she is “thrilled and happy” about being in the class and for her future prospects.

“I’m very grateful, because I didn’t have the money to attend this program,” she said.

Monzon was one of the students who spoke Monday afternoon at the Marshall Area Technical and Educational Center about the CNA Career Pathway Training.

The students spoke before a panel of area legislators – District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City. Also in attendance were area employers, Pat Mellenthin, CEO of Prairie Home Hospice & Community Care, Jackie Esping and Hayley Jerzak from Avera Marshall and Jason Swanson of Prairieview Healthcare Center.

“There’s a real need for qualified CNAs in the community,” said Mellenthin. “I don’t know what we employers would do without this program.”

The Career Pathway Training project offers the opportunity for unemployed or under-employed, adults to prepare for and enter a career that leads to long-term, stable employment.

Pat Thomas, the coordinator for ABE Southwest Minnesota, said the program serves youths and adults at the same time, which has benefits for both cost efficiency and learning.

“The benefits that the youth and adults experience from being together are greater,” Thomas said. “This is the only program in the state that has youth and adults together.”

The program takes place at MA-TEC, which is part of Marshall Public Schools. It is co-instructed by Minnesota West Community & Technical College faculty with Adult Basic Education instructors.

Keland Whittler, a Marshall resident and a father of three, said prior to attending the CNA class, he “didn’t have much going” for himself.” He came to the ABE office to get his GED and was introduced to the certified nursing assistant program.

“I’m so grateful for this program,” Whittler said. “It’s given me vision. I didn’t have vision. I want to continue to work in the medical field.” He said he wants to better himself for himself and his children.

Marshall High School student Ashley Stattelman said she is “learning better in a class with adults because most kids my age aren’t very mature.”

Sandy Sik of Balaton said fewer than two months ago, she was “sitting on the couch watching TV and eating chips” wondering what to do with herself. After years of being a caregiver to her son who has a bone disease and to her parents and working at “high heavy labor” jobs, she was depressed.

“My body can’t do it anymore and my soul can’t take it anymore,” she said of her previous work. She is grateful for the opportunity to take the CNA course.

“I don’t have the money,” she said. “This saved my life.”

After the students spoke, Dahms said the CNA program was “very impressive. You’re here because you want to be here. It’s very heartwarming to hear your stories. You’re on the right track. It was enjoyable to be able to come to this type of setting.”

Dahms said his father died about a month ago and the experience made him realize “what an important job” CNAs do. I realize how important it is to have folks that are qualified. It would be nice if we could spread this program throughout the state.”

The Career Pathway programs are a collaboration between Marshall Public Schools, SW MN Private Industry Council, DEED, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, SW ABE and area employers.


Why Southwest Minnesota?

This 5-minute video highlights some of the opportunities and lifestyle that are available in our region. This short video includes conversations with people who have chosen to make southwest Minnesota their home, and what keeps them here. It is part of a collaborative project between the SW MN Workforce Council, the Hennepin-Carver Workforce Board, funded through a grant from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board.


SW MN Career Pathway Partnership Awarded Skills Training Grant

August 11, 2015 – A Pathways to Prosperity grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will provide an opportunity for under-skilled individuals in southwest Minnesota to start or progress along a career pathway in manufacturing or healthcare. These areas were identified based on industry demand, and an ongoing need for fundamental skills training for entry level and skilled labor jobs. Career pathway training connects progressive levels of basic skills and postsecondary education, training, and support services, to prepare individuals to succeed in their pathway.

The $350,000 two-year grant was awarded to the SW MN Career Pathway Partnership, a collaborative including Minnesota West Community & Technical College, SW ABE Consortium, Southwest Minnesota WorkForce Center Partners (Job Service, Rehabilitation Services, and SW MN PIC), and local businesses. Juanita Lauritsen, Executive Director of SW MN PIC, is excited about the opportunity this presents for southwest Minnesota. “The training is geared toward adult learners, and prepares them to get a job and enter a career pathway quickly, often in three months or less,” she said.

Training opportunities could include the following career pathways: Manufacturing – Welding, Machine Tool, Carpentry/Construction, Industrial Maintenance, Commercial Truck Driving; and Healthcare – Universal Health Care Worker, including Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide, 1st Aid/CPR, ServSafe, Infection Control, Medical Terminology, Trained Medication Administration, Community Interpreter Training, and Health Care Core Curriculum.

Dawn Regnier, Director of Customized Training at Minnesota West Community & Technical College, stated that this is an opportunity not only for individuals, but for area businesses. “These pathways all lead to employment and/or further education in demand occupations in the region,” she said. “This training will prepare students for jobs that businesses tell us they struggle to fill.”

For more information, contact Carol Dombek at 320-269-5561.


Consultant: Good jobs await in manufacturing

West Central Tribune: David Little on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:40 p.m.

WILLMAR — The head of an organization that helps small and medium-size manufacturers compete and grow profitably says there are some really good careers waiting for young people in manufacturing.

“I think a lot of parents have this understanding of what manufacturing was a generation ago. It’s not that any longer,’’ said Bob Kill, president and chief executive officer of the manufacturing consultant organization Enterprise Minnesota.

“These are really high-technology products and innovation that they’re bringing out … great opportunities. So I think we want to bring together people who might know there’s a manufacturer down the street that they drive by. But they don’t quite understand the value of the career opportunity of that.’’

Kill was in Willmar Wednesday afternoon to discuss the results of Enterprise Minnesota’s seventh annual State of Manufacturing survey. Kill was hosted by Ridgewater College’s Customized Training and Continuous Education department.

Willmar was Kill’s eighth stop on a 16-city tour between May 18 and Sept. 10. He discussed key insights on Minnesota’s manufacturing outlook and top issues facing the industry with 30 manufacturers, educators, economic development professionals and the media.

Among the results, the survey found the top three business concerns were health care costs, policies and government regulation, and finding qualified workers. The top three recruitment concerns were affordable health care, salary and wage expectations, and offering competitive benefits package.

Enterprise Minnesota surveyed the top officials of 400 of the 7,400 manufacturing companies in Minnesota between Feb. 23 and March 18.

Manufacturers understand the value of their businesses, “but we really want to bring together public and private parties who should be more interested in the value of manufacturing,’’ Kill said in an interview.

“ … Manufacturing is 13 percent of the jobs in our state and 16 percent of the payroll. There are some really phenomenal and fantastic careers in manufacturing,’’ he said.

Kill said many industries, especially manufacturing, are suffering from finding good, qualified workers. The survey found that 71 percent of companies were having difficulty finding qualified workers. The challenge of finding workers increases as the distance from the Twin Cities metropolitan area increases.

But Kill said he wants to change the image of manufacturing, which he said is “really very much integrated with some of the same things kids are interested in: technology, computers, smart phones.’’

“This is all related to manufacturing and doing the job of manufacturing today,’’ he continued.

Products run the gamut, from medical devices to farm equipment to food processing and everything in between.

Kill also said the number of involved state colleges like Ridgewater has increased from none to 13 or 14 today.

“It’s doing what we want to do: bringing together people who maybe didn’t appreciate the value of manufacturing to the community,’’ Kill said.

Generally speaking, most of the sought-after jobs today require two-year technical degrees from colleges like Ridgewater. But internships are now popular with many manufacturers.

“If they can get their hands on the young people a little bit early, that’s a good thing,’’ Kill said. “More and more there’s a teaming up to make sure we’re recruiting young people.’’


On the FastTRAC

December 19, 2014

By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

SW Minnesota is partner in Disability Employment Initiative Project

MARSHALL – Most people living on Social Security disability benefits are living in poverty and would like to work, say officials working in employment and economic development.

Gary Lewis of the United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration said people with disabilities tell him, “‘I don’t really have an identity; I want to be a part of the system.’ They’re not happy living on the government dole.”

“If they’re receiving SSI, they’re living in poverty,” said DJ Ralston, Disability Employment Initiatives adviser.

The two were part of a panel of speakers who spoke Thursday morning at a workshop for agencies that will be involved in the expansion of the FastTRAC program, which is working to close the skills gap in the workforce.

The Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council is partnering with the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Anoka County Job Training, and Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services on a recently-funded Disability Employment Initiatives (DEI) project. DEED was awarded $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.

The grant project runs from Nov. 1, 2014, through June 30, 2018. The southwest Minnesota region will receive $670,000, which covers administration, staffing, tuition and support, paid work experiences and internships, and curriculum adaptations. A disability resource coordinator/navigator will be hired to provide services to participants enrolled in the project.

“The person could potentially work out of Marshall, Montevideo or Worthington,” said Carol Dombek, the planning and program specialist who works out of Montevideo. “We’re just starting to advertise for that position now.”

The grant project will expand the capacity of WorkForce Centers to improve employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities by increasing their participation in existing career pathways systems and programs, said a news release. Through the grant, the SW MN Career Pathway Partnership will be able to provide services for up to 50 adults with disabilities to improve their access to existing career pathway training in the region. These career pathways include training in healthcare and manufacturing, two of the primary industry sectors in southwest Minnesota.

This project will build upon and enhance the current southwest Minnesota career pathway system; and will benefit not only individuals with disabilities, but also many other participants who have substantial barriers to employment.

One group in particular the project would focus on is people with disabilities who are also veterans.

Lewis said the people with disabilities who are in the program wouldn’t lose their medical benefits and if they wanted to get off SSI, they could – gradually.

“It wouldn’t be overnight,” he said. He added that, if things don’t go well, if the person’s disability impedes employment too much, the person could get back on SSI.

Nola Speiser, one of the DEED DEI state lead along with Alyssa Klein, said the expanded workforce program is flexible.

“The person will drive what the program needs to do, it’s not the program telling the individual what needs to be done,” she said.

The feedback that Dombek has received as to why Minnesota was picked is because of the success of its existing programs.

“Minnesota has a strong reputation in career pathway programs,” she said. “Southwest Minnesota PIC is one of the strongest in the state.”

The Southwest Minnesota Career Pathway Partnership has been working together to deliver quality career training and support in southwest Minnesota since 2003, said the news release. Key partners include Minnesota West Community & Technical College, SW ABE Consortium, Southwest Minnesota WorkForce Center Partners (Job Service, Rehabilitation Services, and SW MN PIC), and local businesses.

“I’m excited about moving forward with the DEI,” said Juanita Lauritsen, executive director of SW MN PIC.

For more information, call Dombek at 320-269-5561.


Training for the future

November 29, 2014; By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

Sparks were flying in the shop area at the Marshall Area Technical Education Center last week. Students dressed in protective jackets, gloves and masks were busy practicing different welds, while an instructor provided guidance.

“I really like it,” said student Brandon Inguanzo. “It’s exciting to do, instead of just sitting down in class.”

But it wasn’t just the chance to work with metal and torches that students said they liked. It was the chance to build a career.

Sparks flew as MA-TEC student Brandon Inguanzo prepared the surface of a piece of metal for welding. Students get hands-on training as part of a welding program for teens and adults at the MA-TEC campus in Marshall.

“I like that when we get done with this, we get 16 college credits,” Inguanzo said.

Student Brittany Krause agreed. Through the welding program at MA-TEC, she said, she was saving on the cost of college. And welding was a good career.

“I feel like this is a great opportunity,” she said.

The welding class was one of two professional training programs now in full swing at MA-TEC, Marshall Public Schools’ alternative school. There are currently 13 students – both teens and adults – in the welding program, and eight in a Certified Nursing Aide program. Both are being offered at the MA-TEC campus on South 2nd Street in Marshall.

“They have to do what every other welder would have to do to become a welder, and what every CNA would have to do to become a CNA,” said MA-TEC Assistant Principal Michelle Noriega.

But it’s not only Marshall Public Schools students who benefit from the experience, said Noriega – it’s good for the community, and regional employers as well. The welding and CNA programs are being offered through a partnership of several organizations, including the school district, Minnesota West Community and Technical Colleges, Southwest Minnesota Adult Basic Education and the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council.

“It’s just been a totally neat experience to watch the systems work together,” said Southwest Minnesota ABE Coordinator Pat Thomas.

Marshall Public Schools’ vision for MA-TEC was to offer a focus on technical education and training, Noriega said. But it took creativity and teamwork to be able to fund and offer that kind of hands-on training, she said. It shows in the design of the CNA and welding programs.

For example, Noriega and Thomas said, Minnesota West faculty provide the instruction for the welding program, while the classroom and welding shop are located at MA-TEC. The program is run on the model of the PSEO program, so students earn college and high school credits.

The programs are also open to adults.

Having a mix of adult and MA-TEC students in the programs has had a couple of positive effects, Thomas said. First, it helps keep enrollment steady – it’s hard to offer the training courses without a “critical mass” of students. Second, she said, the adult students have also acted like mentors for the teens.

“The kids, I think, have a different attitude toward the training because of the adults,” Thomas said.

Noriega said adult students in the CNA program have been able to share their knowledge about making life and career decisions with the younger students.

“It’s been a really valuable experience,” Noriega said.

However, technical skills are only part of what employers need, said Eriann Faris, youth program manager for the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council.

“It is extremely important today for our young people to develop employability skills,” like responsibility, communication and problem solving, Faris said. “More often than not, employers can train individuals on the tangible skills. It is the intangible skills the individuals they hire are missing.”

Faris said Southwest Minnesota PIC staff work with MA-TEC students to help with skills like writing resumes, searching and interviewing for jobs and connecting with potential employers.

“In some cases, our programs are able to offer work experience to those who successfully complete the training,” she said.

The end result of all this, Noriega and Thomas said, is that young people can get on the path to success and a rewarding job.

“They have a chance to be good at something that transfers out beyond them,” Noriega said.

“The return on investment is immeasurable,” Thomas said.

Area residents will have the chance to learn more about MA-TEC programs, and tour the campus, during an open house on Dec. 4. Tours will be offered from 2:30-6 p.m.


Advanced Manufacturing Training Available to Southwest Minnesota Businesses and Workers

November 20, 2014 – The Southwest Minnesota Workforce Council, DEED, and the SW MN Private Industry Council are partnering with the Advanced Manufacturing Education (AME) Alliance to offer the opportunity for free college classes to manufacturing businesses and workers in southwest Minnesota. These courses are offered online, at no cost to the student or employer, other than books and supplies.

The classes offered include:

  • Safety Awareness (2 credits)
  • Manufacturing Processes and Production (2 credits)
  • Quality Practices (2 credits)
  • Maintenance Awareness (2 credits)

Each course is 8 weeks long – they may be taken during the same time period, or spread out over multiple time periods. Classes in 2015 start January 5; March 2; April 27; and June 22.

Completion of these four courses, and passing the MSSC exam for each course, will qualify a student for an MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT) Certificate.

This is an excellent opportunity to get quality training for manufacturing employees at minimal cost!

For more information, visit the website at or contact: Carol Dombek (320-269-5561 or; Julie Redepenning (320-441-6571 or; Denise Myhrberg (507-537-6236 or Referrals for training must be made through one of the partners.

The AME Alliance is a federally funded TAACCCT grant from the U. S. Department of Labor, and includes Central Lakes College, Pine Technical & Community College, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, and the 360° Manufacturing Center of Excellence, along with partner employers, workforce and government agencies, and community organizations. All the partners are committed to developing Advanced Manufacturing Education and Training programs that will lead to high-wage, high-skill employment results.


Governor Dayton signs formal proclamation for Minnesota Careers in Energy Week

October 13, 2014 – Governor Mark Dayton has signed Minnesota’s first-ever proclamation for “Careers in Energy Week”, which will be recognized October 13-19, 2014. the idea for a “Careers in Energy Week” in Minnesota came about through a group of industry professionals who are part of the Minnesota Energy Consortium which provides a connecting point for the energy industry, government, and higher education.

“As we look to the future, energy companies are projecting 30-50 percent of its workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years,” said Bruce Peterson, Minnesota Energy Consortium chair. “With these projections there will be plenty of opportunities for technical school and college graduates to move into an energy career. The industry offers a variety of positions, job stability, opportunities for advancement and solid pay.”

A “Careers in Energy Week” provides an opportunity for energy companies to connect with their local communities by sponsoring special events where schools, families, and other businesses can learn more about how utilities operate and the important role they play in the local economy.

The Center for Energy Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations, formed “Careers in Energy Week” to help utilities work together to develop solutions to the coming workforce shortage in the utility industry nationwide.

The Minnesota Rural Electric Association is a nonprofit trade association serving Minnesota’s electric cooperatives. MREA provides legislative and regulatory representation, director and employee training programs, technical training for electric cooperative line workers, and serves as the focal point for the cooperatives to work together. There are 44 distribution cooperatives and six generation and transmission members of MREA.


Career Pathway Training and Informational Meetings

July 28, 2014 – A variety of short-term Career Pathway trainings will start on September 8, 2014, including Industrial Maintenance, Welding, and Universal Health Care Worker. Training sites include Madision (Universal Health Care Worker); Granite Falls (Industrial Maintenance); Jackson (Welding); and Worthington (Universal Health Care Worker).

Click on this link for a flyer with the dates/ times/ locations of the Informational Meetings. Scholarship funds may be available for those who qualify. Eligibility varies by funding source – contact Carol Dombek (320-269-5561 or 800-422-1346; or Annette Waterman (320-269-5561 or 800-422-1346; for more information.


Informational Meeting for Redwood Falls Welding Classes

July 7, 2014 – Employers in southwest Minnesota are finding it more difficult to fill jobs in some industries as the economy improves, and that is especially true for welding jobs. There is an identified shortage of welders, not only in Minnesota but nationwide.

To help fill this gap, the SW MN Career Pathway Partnership will be sponsoring a welding class in Redwood Falls this summer. The comprehensive training includes both hands-on training and classroom instruction, taught by instructors from Minnesota West Community & Technical College and SW ABE. The Redwood Falls welding training is supported by Redwood Development Corporation and area manufacturing industries.

An informational meeting is scheduled for July 15, starting at 9:00 at the Minnesota West College campus in Redwood Falls. Prospective students are encouraged to come to the meeting to learn more – you will have an opportunity to apply that day.

The 165-hour class will start on July 21, 2014. Classes will be held Monday-Friday, for six hours a day, and are scheduled to finish by August 30. There are a limited numbers of openings available for the training, so prospective students are encouraged to apply early. Scholarships may be available to cover the cost of the training.

This is a great opportunity for individuals to learn a skill and start a career pathway in a demand occupation! For more information on the classes, contact Les Kvam at MN West CTC (507-537-7533;

For information on the application process and possible scholarships, contact the SW MN Private Industry Council: Carol Dombek (320-269-5561 or 800-422-1346; or Tim Jones (507-537-6237 or 800-818-9295;

April 29, 2014 –
An interesting article concerning water shortages in SW Minnesota:

In state’s southwest, water pipes get longer, costs rise
From Marshall to Mountain Lake to Worthington, southwestern Minnesota communities are finding that the hunt for an adequate supply of good water can get expensive.



The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth

March 13, 2014 – According to this report “Overall, the economic burden from failing to invest in all of America’s youth is substantial. More education, better training, as well as social supports will be needed to alleviate this burden.” Click to see the report.


As economy recovers, filling job vacancies becoming a challenge

By Tom Cherveny on Jan 6, 2014 at 10:12pm (West Central Tribune, January 6, 2014)

MONTEVIDEO — Employers across Minnesota are finding it more difficult to fill jobs in some industries as the economy recovers, and that’s especially true in southwestern Minnesota.

Statewide, employers reported that 43 percent of job vacancies were difficult to fill, according to the Labor Market Information Office of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The most difficult jobs to fill were found in production. Employers in southwest Minnesota reported hiring difficulties for 81 percent of the production job vacancies. Their counterparts in central Minnesota reported difficulties for 90 percent of the jobs.

Employers in the metropolitan area reported 35 percent as hard to fill, according to Alessia Leibert in a recent report for Minnesota Economic Trends.

Smaller firms tended to have more difficulty recruiting than larger firms, according to the 2013 survey of hiring.

The good news is that while many job vacancies are slow to fill, they are being filled, according to Rachel Vilsack, regional analysis and outreach manager with the Labor Market Information Office in St. Paul.

Job vacancies are more difficult to fill for a variety of reasons.

There are skills shortages, where employers find it hard to recruit workers with the right skills mix.

Demand side issues are a big factor too. Unattractive wages, work hours, or location can also keep the number of applicants down.

Many believe the current situation speaks to the recovery from the recession. The previous downturn meant fewer new workers were able to find or sought manufacturing jobs.

Today, there’s no question about the demand for workers with specific skills.

Welding is huge in terms of employer demand in this region, according to Carol Dombek with the Minnesota Work Force Center in Montevideo. The Work Force Center recently filled two 80-hour classes to provide entry-level welding skills for job seekers.

Wages for welders in southwest Minnesota range from $11.37 to $22.94 hour, with a median wage of $16.88 hour, according to the Work Force Center.

The Work Force Center is also seeing strong demand and difficulty in filling universal health care jobs, said Dombek. Wages for certified nursing assistants range from $9.88 to $14.36 an hour, with a median wage of $11.34.

Dombek said one of the challenges facing manufacturing is that a lot of young people are just not aware of the opportunities available. And, many do not realize how much the work environment and wages in manufacturing have improved.

Add to that the decline in employment during the recession, and the result is fewer young people pursuing careers in manufacturing.

A case in point: Manufacturing firms report that machinist jobs are among the most difficult to fill. The Minnesota West Community and Technology College in Granite Falls discontinued its two-year machine tools program during the recession after consecutive years with low enrollment, according to Linda Degriselles, campus dean.

She pointed out that demand for skilled workers in manufacturing is only growing. Employers came calling with more than 300 good-paying job offers for graduates in the school’s fluid power program, she said.

Dombek pointed out many job openings do not require specialized skills, and many employers are offering on-the-job training. She said job prospects are very good for entry-level workers with the foundation work skills needed.

Vilsack said that follow-up interviews with employers reporting difficulty in filling jobs indicated that while it is taking longer than they would like, employers are filling the positions. And in a majority of the cases, they reported being “very satisfied’’ with the new hire.


Tractor factory brings jobs & challenges to Jackson, MN

December 7, 2013 – The changes started in 2001 when AGCO, the world’s third largest farm equipment manufacturer, bought Ag-Chem, a family owned agricultural sprayer…

Read entire article at:


Job Tips/Job Training Newsletter

November 12, 2013 – Check out the PIC Job Tips/Job Training Newsletter for tips to help with your job search, and learn about upcoming training opportunities!


Mike Rowe on How Many Are Following the ‘Worst Advice in the History of the World’

Oct. 23, 2013 8:30pm Erica Ritz

Mike Rowe, widely-known from the hit TV show “Dirty Jobs” and a series of Ford commercials, appeared on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday to discuss his efforts with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation in challenging “the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”

“We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist,” he explained, echoing what he told TheBlaze TV’s Andrew Wilkow earlier this month. “That’s crazy, right? That’s what we’ve been doing for the last forty years.”

Rowe’s motivation for the work largely began with what he described as “the worst advice in the history of the world” – a poster he saw in high school challenging students to “work smart, not hard.”  The picture of the person working “smart” was holding a diploma, and the person working “hard” looked miserable performing some form of manual labor.

“Today, skilled trades are in demand. In fact, there are 3 million jobs out there that companies are having a hard time filling. So we thought that skilled trades could do with a PR campaign,” he said with a smile. “So we took the same idea, went ahead and vandalized it. Work smart AND hard.’”

Click here to read the complete article.




Career Pathway Projects Awarded Grants

September 16, 2013 – More exciting news for southwest Minnesota! The SW MN Private Industry Council was recently notified by the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development of two grant awards for Career Pathway projects in the region

The $360,000 Adult Career Transition II Grant will expand and build upon best practices developed and implemented from the current Adult Workforce Development project, connecting progressive levels of basic skills and postsecondary education, training and support services in three high demand, high growth industry sections in Southwest Minnesota.  These areas include Machine Maintenance Technician, Universal Healthcare Worker and Metal Fabricator/Welder.  Key partners involved in the project include: Southwest Adult Basic Education Consortium, Minnesota West Community & Technical College, and Minnesota WorkForce Center partners. An added component of this project is a new partnership with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation, who will provide GreenPOWER training, Green Job Search, and will facilitate the OSHA-10 training through the United Steel Workers. The training will provide an opportunity for college credit and/or industry recognized credentials.  The target population for this project will include priority for economically disadvantaged individuals, including those returning to work after receiving public assistance; and/or individuals who identify with minority ethnic/race groups.

The Minnesota FastTRAC Adult Career Pathway Project will receive $100,674 to train about 30 participants in the current Universal Healthcare Worker Program in Granite Falls, Marshall and/or Worthington.  Funds will also be used to develop a new partnership and new Universal Healthcare Worker program in the Windom area. This will build upon a new Certified Nursing Assistant program being implemented by the Windom Education and Collaborative Center (WECC), Southwest ABE, and MN West Community & Technical College.

For more information on either of the projects please contact: Carol Dombek at 320-269-5561 or



August 27, 2013 – Check out the Southwest Minnesota Careers Facebook page, your online resource for information on hot jobs, education, and wages in Southwest Minnesota. This page is an extension of the Southwest Minnesota Careers website (, which was designed to help everyone easily research labor market information to make better career decisions, while also helping businesses find employees by increasing the pipeline of qualified applicants. The website focuses specifically on Southwest Minnesota, encouraging employment options in our home towns. Topics covered on the site include:

1.  What jobs are in demand in Southwest Minnesota?

2.  How much education do I need to get those jobs?

3.  How much money will I make?

4.  How do I know which career is right for me?

5.  What industries are growing in Southwest Minnesota?

6.  Can someone help me with my resume and job search?

While the information on the website gets updated each summer as new information comes out, we will use our Facebook page to provide more frequent updates about topics of interest in Southwest Minnesota, such as job postings, career planning advice, business expansions, and more.

Through Southwest Minnesota Careers, the Southwest Minnesota WorkForce Council is committed to building tomorrow’s workforce through training, leadership, and economic development by providing employment and training services to residents and businesses across the region.


Grant Awarded for Young Adult Career Pathways Program

July 30, 2013 – Exciting News! The SW MN Private Industry Council Young Adult Career Pathways Program has been selected for funding by the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development. The $250,000, 2-year grant will offer comprehensive training to participants in the identified target populations (18-24 Out of School Youth and Communities of Color) who traditionally face barriers to successful employment. The fundamental career and technical skills training will concentrate on healthcare, a high demand high pay industry in southwest Minnesota.

To assure increased participant completion and skills mastery, career pathway training, work experience, and support services will be provided through the project partnership. Additional instruction will enhance participants’ Basic English and Math comprehension, computer/technology literacy, work readiness, soft skills, and employability skills.

The intended outcome of the project is higher skill attainment and successful completion of industry recognized credentials, college credits, job placement, job retention, enrollment in higher education career pathway/degree programs, enhanced awareness of resources and opportunities for career advancement.

Young Adult Career Pathway Model Visual

For more information:

Eriann Faris, Youth Program Manager

507-537-6236 (office)

507-829-8168 (cell)