Grand Forks Herald

By Adam Kurtz

For economic developers and technical college educators in East Grand Forks, issues regarding the worker shortage in the region extend beyond the lack of people to fill jobs.

On Wednesday, March 30, Northland Community & Technical College administrators, local economic developers and Chamber executives met at Northland’s East Grand Forks campus at the behest of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, to discuss workforce development initiatives. Klobuchar was not in attendance at that meeting, but addressed members through a prerecorded video message. When her message concluded, discussion of how to handle the problems facing job seekers, tech ed students and employers, was like a burst dam of concern and suggestions for help.

Issues range from lack of awareness of how to participate in apprenticeship programs to federal government regulations surrounding financial aid for two-year college students, and how those college administrators can spend grant dollars. Child care is also a major issue when it comes to a person wanting to either enter the workforce or undertake job training — the lack of childcare can keep people from working or studying.

Klobuchar arranged the meetings, nine in all around the state, to hear feedback on workforce issues, to inform future legislative ideas.

“We need your input,” she said. “You're on the frontlines, you know your industry, and I know you have a lot of good ideas.”