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The Labor Day Project...

THE LABOR DAY PROJECT IS AN EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT AND ongoing SKILLED LABOR SHORTAGE, WHAT’S BEING DONE ABOUT IT AND HOW TO MORE EFFECTIVELY CONNECT INDUSTRY WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR, VETERANS, WOMEN, LGBTQ+ ANd ALL UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS.

  • Situation: Key industries in Minnesota are facing a shortage of skilled workers. These industries are construction, manufacturing, agriculture, IT, transportation/logistics and healthcare. The rebounding economy has created more work than can be done by the available workers. It's come to be known as "The Skills Gap."

  • Challenge: Many career opportunities have an undeserved reputation of being second-tier jobs, work to pursue if you can’t cut it in college. Today, these jobs require highly skilled workers. This will only increase in the future. Many of these opportunities are in industries that, in the past, have been less than welcoming to anyone who is not a white male. These industries have changed, but perceptions die hard.

  • Strategy: A) Identify and candidly address the barriers job-seekers confront on their journey to become employed in these industries. B) Re-educate job seekers (veterans, women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and all underserved populations) and those who influence them (parents, teachers, guidance counselors, community and religious leaders) as to the new reality of these industries and  modern career opportunities.

  • Tactic: We’d like to talk with you about that. Give us a call and we'll share our plans.

WE INTERVIEWED LOCAL THOUGHT-LEADERS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ABOUT THE SKILLS GAP AND WHAT’S BEING DONE ABOUT IT. HERE’S WHAT WE HEARD:


BACKSTORY: It begins in 2016 with the creation of marketing and training videos for Parsons Electric. As we researched Lean Construction and how it will impact the construction industry, the subject of a skilled labor shortage kept coming up. Lean Construction improves worker efficiency by eliminating wasted time and effort, making it one of the “tools in the kit” that contractors are recognizing as an answer to the skilled labor shortage.

We wondered, “Can we play a role in shrinking The Skills Gap?”

We began our research where all good researchers start… Google. We found many websites promoting apprenticeships and careers in skilled trades, Unions, industry associations and state employment and labor departments all had a story to tell. All were saying essentially the same thing: get a great career with great pay and benefits, with no student debt.

But, if that’s the case, why has participation in Minnesota apprenticeships plateaued in recent years? Why is there still an unmet need for people entering the construction trades? We wanted to find out, and further research meant leaving Google behind and engaging people in the industry: general contractors, unions, trade associations, apprenticeship instructors. We wanted to know, given all the efforts in Minnesota to promote construction careers, what wasn’t working? The video on this page is a capsule of those conversations.

Where does The Labor Day Project fit into this deep and wide landscape of connecting workers to work?

We believe we’ve gained an understanding and a familiarity with the challenge. We’ve engaged subject matter experts in culture, social media and data-driven marketing. And we’ve developed some strategies and tools that we’ve not seen employed before.

We believe stakeholders need to develop a message that speaks to the barriers and deliver it in a way that gets noticed and believed. We recognize the value in partnering with the people in the trenches.

There’s more to learn. The hiring landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years. It's time to leave old methods and messages behind and make this new reality our ally.

Educator and musician Ellis Richardson joins us on The Labor Day Project.

What's next? We’ve expanded our focus to now include construction, manufacturing, agriculture, IT, transportation/logistics and healthcare; all are industries that are experiencing a shortage of skilled labor.


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The Labor Day Project

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