Manufacturing Conference Draws Governor to Brooklyn Park
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz was in Brooklyn Park Thursday to talk manufacturing. The governor attended the Minnesota Manufacturing Conference held at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest hotel. He addressed what employment experts consider a serious manufacturing labor shortage.
“If you’re of a certain age and look like me, we were told coming out of high school that manufacturing jobs would be gone,” said Walz. “They would be overseas. That would be it, and that you needed to think about something in service.”
Walz said that created a situation where parents thought they had to send their kids to college.
“Even if they had no damn idea what they wanted to study, just go get a 4 year degree,” Walz said about the parenting mentality at the time.
Walz and industry experts say that mentality created a market where manufacturing companies have trouble finding workers because not enough young people went to tech schools instead of college. One conference organizer told us there’s a shortage of more than 100,000 manufacturing workers in Minnesota. That number will grow as older workers retire.
“Many manufacturers are very busy,” said Steve Kalina, president of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. “But they’re short on talent and they’re trying to figure out how to fill open gaps that have been there for a few years. And really just figuring out ways to find new talent and then train them and retain them.”
Kalina says manufacturers are trying a number of ideas including increasing wages. Some are also offering free or reduced-cost training to get people into the manufacturing workforce.