September 5, 2018
With ‘The Great Minnesota Get-Together’ and Labor Day behind us back to school season is in full swing. And, for high school students heading back to the classroom, this school year could be a pivotal time in selecting a future career path.
Students today are faced with making career decisions while weighing rising costs for higher education and a rapidly changing workplace due to technology. Meanwhile, businesses must contend with an extremely tight labor market and competition for talent. In the 2018 Clean Jobs Midwest report 85 percent of clean energy businesses reported difficulty hiring qualified employees, and 39 percent of those said hiring was “very difficult.”
Connecting students with local professionals to observe career possibilities first-hand can make all the difference to youth looking for a fulfilling and successful career. For high growth clean energy jobs, which offer better than average wages and vast opportunities for advancement and growth, it is imperative to highlight these job opportunities to students in order to build a strong talent pipeline.
Getting Career Ready
One organization helping high school students understand and navigate their career options is AchieveMpls, which is the strategic nonprofit partner of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). Together, AchieveMpls and MPS work toward having every student career and college-ready. With full time staff serving in AchieveMpls Career & College Centers in 11 MPS high schools across the school district, they link students to new career fields, industries and the best post-secondary training for their career goals – including two and four-year degrees, technical schools, certificate programs, apprenticeships and more.
AchieveMpls’ staff also bring careers alive by connecting students with Graduation Coach mentors, hosting career exploration events, mock interviews and placing hundreds of Minneapolis youth in paid internships through the Step Up youth employment program, which it directs in partnership with the City of Minneapolis.
AchieveMpls works with more than 9,000 students annually and together with the City of Minneapolis, provides Step Up summer internships for 1,500 students at over 150 companies, public agencies and nonprofits. Additionally, AchieveMpls staff connect students with companies who hire and provide training for employment directly following high school graduation.
An important part of AchieveMpls’ success is establishing relationships with companies looking for their future workforce in order to connect them with interested students seeking high-demand, high-wage careers. If this sounds like the perfect opportunity for the clean energy industry, you’re right. Some of the companies that have partnered with AchieveMpls are Mortenson Construction, the University of Minnesota and Cargill.
By talking about your career with students who are still considering what job opportunities they might pursue you can help them envision their future in the clean energy field. You can get involved by visiting a school for a career exploration event, becoming a graduation coach, or serving as a mock interviewer.
This type of networking and local involvement by employers is important for providing direct information on what skills and training are required, what jobs are in demand, and how students can transition to employment. If we want Minnesota to continue being a clean energy leader we need to think strategically about how these programs can provide a competitive advantage to the industry and benefit the communities they call home.
- By Lily Osborne
Interested in working with AchieveMpls? Reach out to Leah Corey, Senior Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.