Jinny Rietmann: Workforce Development is here to help you find your opportunity

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

By now everyone has likely heard about the “Great Resignation,” where millions of Americans have voluntarily left their employment for numerous reasons.

Prior to the pandemic, southeast Minnesota was already facing an incredibly challenging workforce shortage, which was only exacerbated by the pandemic, childcare shortages, declining population and workforce participation numbers, and more.

Yet still, Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) Career Planners continue to see and serve individuals who are struggling to find employment. Individuals are also struggling while getting lost in the application process, with stories of not receiving callbacks or being informed they were not chosen for a position.

Employers are telling us their no-show rate for interviews is also the highest they’ve seen.  How can this mismatch be explained? I have been using the term “Opportunity Mismatch” for several months now, as a term to describe this strange and unprecedented challenge in our workforce.

There are thousands of job openings, but still thousands of career seekers.  Knowing the skill level, work history, and education of the career seekers we serve, we can no longer point to a skills mismatch or “skills gap” that has been so often blamed.

There is a real and true Opportunity Mismatch happening where career seekers do not see themselves succeeding in the opportunities available to them, where they are unaware of the opportunities available to them, and where employers are often looking in the wrong places to find talent.

To be clear, this is nobody’s fault — but an interesting wrinkle to an already challenging workforce shortage crisis. As our population diversifies, and as our workforce returns from pandemic challenges of unemployment and unstable work, life, and school schedules, there is a sea of opportunity, but the opportunities look different.  The talent also looks different than it did two years ago.

So as employers are struggling to fill positions, how do we solve this mismatch? The solutions are complex and will require us all to think differently about work, values, recruitment, and retention.  We are no longer recruiting individuals for a particular job or career, for example, we are recruiting them into the workforce — a completely different recruitment strategy.

Employers are willing to make changes, so it is the perfect time to reassess the negotiables and non-negotiables of our work world and look at potential talent opportunities differently.

WDI is a private, non-profit organization providing employment and training services for both career seekers and employers throughout southeast Minnesota. WDI has offices in each of the 10 counties in our region: Goodhue, Wabasha, Houston, Fillmore, Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Steele, Rice, and Dodge.  Please connect with us:  www.workforcedevelopmentinc.org or call 1-507-460-5020 in Austin.

Don’t miss our biggest, virtual, fre event of the year. The 2022 Workforce Development Forum will explore ways to re-build, re-invigorate, and re-invest in workforce development and the Southeast Minnesota regional economy. Breakout sessions will include: Labor Market Update, Regional Workforce Development Innovation, the Inclusive Workforce Employer (I-WE) designation, the Future of Work, Immigrant Voices, and will spotlight this year’s Best Places to Work award recipients. The forum will conclude with a celebration and recognition of this year’s Best Places to Work award recipients, and a sharing of employers’ best practices.

Register here: https://bit.ly/3qphglD

Jinny Rietmann is Executive Director Workforce Development, Inc.