Windom Area Schools has implemented a new block class schedule and five pathways for students to explore: Agriculture and Manufacturing, Health Science, Education, Business and Marketing and Information Technology. Many courses offer credits that give students a jump on post-secondary education and connect students to outside opportunities.  

Senior student Parker Bramstedt is in the Agriculture and Manufacturing Pathway. “I was able to improve my welding skills a lot and they went really in depth into how everything goes together,” he said. “It opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out here.” Parker landed a work study position at a local manufacturer and went from helping other employees do projects to completing his own. Read more by clicking here

On March 9th, 2020, the Windom Area School hosted a Pathway Exploration Night in partnership with the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council. Employers in the region are challenged to recruit and hire employees with the skills needed for even entry-level employment with a projected population decline in our rural region and a current regional unemployment rate of 2.1%, the lowest rate in decades. Additionally, our region’s Jobseekers per Vacancy rate is 0.5 (DEED Data Tools). Employers are screaming for workers to fill their jobs and with few people moving to the region, Greater Minnesota is largely dependent on high school graduates flowing into the workforce.

As students and their parents look forward to the world of work, they face the challenge of not knowing what local careers and pathways exist and acquiring the education and skills needed for that job. There are many factors that students consider when deciding on their educational or career paths, but one influencer stands out: parents (Tapping Homegrown Talent, Greiner, 2018). According to Luke Greiner, DEED Regional Labor Market Analyst for Southwest Minnesota, 75% of students surveyed in southwestern MN indicated they would stay in their area if they had an acceptable job prospect. Sharing upfront the wage potential, education requirements, and in-house training employers provide or college assistance/scholarship assistance company’s offer and how to get connected to those opportunities through the local careers is powerful for our students and their families today.

The labor market is much different than it was so many years ago and awareness and exposure for our youth and their parents of future real, local career and training options is critical in today’s economy. Rural Minnesota has incredible career and educational opportunities, unfortunately many students and adults are not aware of them. If we are to help our future workforce develop the skills and leadership which will allow our economy to thrive, we must heighten awareness about the great career pathways, employment and educational opportunities that exist in our region.

It is critical to engage our future workforce with local employers and community mentors to inform our young people of the regional jobs in demand, and career pathway opportunities within local industry while also providing guidance and understanding to our students on proper career attainment dynamics, such as interviewing skills, soft skills, and career planning focuses.” says Eriann Faris, Program Manager for the PIC.

A HUGE appreciation to the following employers who participated in the very successful evening: Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic (Windom), Miller Sellner (Bingham Lake), MN West Health Information and Technology Program, MN State Energy Center of Excellence, JBS (Worthington), Windom Area Health (Windom), Bisbee Plumbing and Heating (Marshall), Elite Mechanical Systems, Comfrey Farm Prime Pork (Windom), POET Biorefining (Bingham Lake), Royal Glass LLC (Town), Isagenix (Windom), Ag Builders / GDF Enterprises, Cottonwood County Public Works (Windom), City of Windom (Windom), Minnesota Department of Transportation (Windom), United States Army, Good Samaritan Society (Windom), FAST Global Solutions (Windom), Windom Ambulance Service (Windom), Fortune Transportation Co. (Windom)

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Andre Adame at 507-706-1600 or aadame@swmnpic.org.