WDI and Partners: Focus on Work-Based Learning Opportunities

Our methodical approach to help employers find ways to attract and retain more workers.

  1. Workforce Development, Inc., the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Southeast Service Cooperative have partnered in creating a shared liaison position to help businesses connect with work-based learning opportunities and address talent pipeline shortages.  Lori Wright serves as a full-time liaison to guide and enhance the work-based learning work being done for both youth and adults throughout Southeast Minnesota.  Her work is focused on evaluating the specific workforce needs of regional businesses, connecting those businesses to local resources, especially work-based learning opportunities, and sharing the identified needs with the partners to develop a methodical approach to attract and retain more workers. Lori comes to us with proven project management experience, a can-do attitude, and a focus on results. 

What have we learned so far? A methodical approach is crucial to creating lasting impact. Southeast Minnesota is currently experiencing a large number of unengaged community citizens, under-skilled workers, baby boomers retiring, fewer young people available to replace retirees, and youth that are not aware of well-paying careers that exist in their own communities and not engaging in the workforce. In addition, there are organizations independently approaching this issue in silos due to limited regional efficiencies, processes, and resources.

Many of the great careers that are key to the economic vitality of Southeast Minnesota are in agribusiness, healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing.  According to DEED’s Occupations in Demand tool, there are over 275 occupations showing relatively high demand in Southeast Minnesota, with training and education requirements ranging from short-term on-the-job training to postsecondary education to advanced degrees.

Some area businesses have already become creative in recruiting and retaining efforts. New approaches include paying more attention to the employees they already have, increasing starting pay, allowing flexible work schedules and realizing younger employees put a high value on working for companies that create a meaningful and inclusive work environments.  Many area businesses are also exploring work-based learning opportunities in partnership with local high schools and colleges.  Lori’s role in connecting businesses with education partners to provide work-based learning opportunities and help get young people into demand occupations is invaluable. 

Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Service Cooperative, and Workforce Development, Inc.’s deliberate approach, working in conjunction with K-12 school districts, business and industry, collaborative groups, local colleges and universities, and local government, should help Southeast Minnesota stand out among other communities that are facing the same talent shortages.

To learn more about work-based learning opportunities and innovations, contact Lori Wright at LoriWright@workforcedevelopmentinc.org.

RCTC AWARDED MINNESOTA JOB SKILLS PARTNERSHIP GRANT

(Rochester, MN) Rochester Community and Technical College’s Center for Business and Workforce Education, in collaboration with Olmsted Medical Center (OMC), has been awarded a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) grant totaling $49,931. The grant will be used to develop training and expand employment opportunities for Medical Laboratory Technician Assistants (MLTAs).

Rochester and Southeastern Minnesota are facing workforce challenges in the healthcare sector, primarily due to retirements as a result of the increased aging of our society. Innovators, like OMC, are thinking differently about their hiring and training practices and are seeking ways to increase their investment in their employees. According to Paula Wegman, OMC’s Human Resources education and onboarding coordinator, “The goal of the grant is to provide job advancement opportunities and to continue to provide growth opportunities to our staff.”

Wegman also explains, “As OMC continues to grow its services to the residents of Southeast Minnesota, the need for MLTAs has also grown.” OMC utilizes MLTAs to provide specimen collection and processing at the hospital, the Rochester Southeast Clinic, and the Rochester Northwest Clinic, as well as the 11 branch clinics located in Southeast Minnesota.

MJSP allocates grants to educational institutions that are working to expand employment opportunities in growth sectors within Minnesota’s economy to keep high-quality jobs in the state. These grants are distributed through the custom training departments at the colleges and require training to be developed for the partnering business’ needs. RCTC’s Director for Business and Workforce Education, Jennifer Wilson, Ph.D., states, “The MJSP grant allows us to partner with OMC to create a short-term MLTA training program which will be comprised of 80 hours of online coursework, 64 hours of practical lab application, and 96 on-the-job training hours.  At the end of the training, the students will have the opportunity to have gained two industry certificates: one in phlebotomy and the other for the American Society for Clinical Pathology Medical Laboratory Assistant.”

The grant comes at a time when employers, like OMC, are looking at alternative ways to focus on investing in their employees. Dr. Wilson added, “We are fortunate to partner with OMC, an organization that continues to be an exceptional partner and leader within our region and is known for providing its patients with convenient, quality personal care.” 

For further information on RCTC’s MJSP grant, contact Dr. Jennifer Wilson at 507-529-2736.

About OMC

Olmsted Medical Center is a not-for-profit organization and has been southeastern Minnesota’s hometown healthcare provider since 1949.  Each year, the Olmsted Medical Center team sees over 316,000 patients and has more than 35 specialties.  The non-profit serves 20 locations, including two multi-specialty clinics, a Level IV trauma hospital with a 24-hour emergency room, a FastCare retail clinic in Rochester’s Shopko store, two Acute Care clinics, a Skyway Clinic in downtown Rochester, and 11 community branch clinics. 

About RCTC

Established in 1915, RCTC is the largest higher education provider in the fastest-growing city in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 students a year in credit courses and nearly 3,700 in non-credit continuing and workforce education programs. RCTC combines the best in liberal arts, technical, and life-long learning with more than 70 credit-based programs and over 100 credential options. RCTC’s expansive 518-acre campus includes university partnerships, a diverse student body, and a vibrant student life program. RCTC provides a unique learning environment that offers the feel of a four-year university campus with the commitment to access and opportunity of a two-year college.

 

The Minnesota State system consists of 37 colleges and universities with over 16,000 employees offering nearly 4,000 educational programs to nearly 400,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system in the United States.

 

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RCTC is a member of the Minnesota State system.

 

RCTC Names 2019 Outstanding Educators

(Rochester, MN) Rochester Community and Technical College is proud to announce Jeff Lepper, Mary Shelerud, and Jennifer Kiehne have been selected to receive the College’s 2019 Outstanding Educator Award. Instructors were nominated by faculty, students, and staff, and completed an extensive portfolio of their work and accomplishments at RCTC in order to be considered for the award. RCTC will celebrate these remarkable faculty at a reception on Wednesday, April 24 at 2:00 pm in Coffman Building, room CF 206-208.

 

The Outstanding Educators’ teaching portfolios are statements about who they are as instructors and makes visible their work in planning coursework, teaching, and improving student learning. Nominees’ portfolios are reviewed for teaching philosophy; content expertise and professional growth; teaching strategies and materials; standards of assessment of student learning and performance; and service to students, profession, institution, and the Minnesota State system.

 

Jeff Lepper has been an English faculty member at RCTC since the fall of 2010. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Idaho and currently serves as the division chair of the English department.

 

Jeff understands the importance of creating a student learning environment that is engaging, challenging and safe. He values students’ time, input and hard work; empowers them to take control of their learning; and encourages them to take some risks. He is passionate about the mission of the community college and its diverse student body and embraces the different experiences of the students. The integration of these experiences in the classroom gives students the freedom to write about those things that are valued and important. Jeff firmly believes that in order to foster a positive learning environment, there needs to be mutual respect within the classroom, and that starts with the instructor. Through content and knowledge, he demonstrates an ability to communicate ideas to students so that they learn something that will translate into useful skills beyond the classroom. Jeff’s philosophy for education is that it cannot end at the door of the classroom.

 

Mary Shelerud has been a faculty member at RCTC since 2007. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Mary understands the importance of adapting curriculum and teaching methods to meet the needs of students and utilizes active teaching strategies to engage students. By providing basic fundamentals and hands-on experience, students learn to become critical thinkers. Mary understands how challenging nursing classes can be and has developed a teaching style that meets the students’ learning needs. Mary sets clear goals and expectations, and through assessment, she measures students content knowledge and critical thinking skills.

 

Prior to joining RCTC, Mary held leadership positions in the healthcare field and brings the knowledge and expertise from these experiences into her classroom. Mary is actively involved with the National Council of State Board of Nursing and recently received certification as a Nurse Educator by the National League of Nursing. Mary is a member of the American Nurses Association and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

 

Along with recognizing outstanding full-time faculty, RCTC also recognizes and appreciates the great educational experiences the College’s adjunct and part-time faculty offer students. This year's Adjunct Faculty of the Year is Jennifer Kiehne. Jennifer engages the class and encourages active learning. She shares experiences from her time as a therapist to provide real world examples. Jennifer understands that tests aren't the best ways to measure a student’s learning and instead gives critical thinking assignments each week. One of the nominators writes, “It is evident that not only does Jennifer care about us as students, she cares about us as people and our overall well-being. I always look forward to going to her classes because I know I will be learning in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.”

 

Portfolios for both full-time instructors, Jeff Lepper and Mary Shelerud, will be forwarded to the system-wide Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching Review Committee. Up to 70 portfolios from Minnesota State’s 31 colleges and universities will be reviewed by the committee, which will recommend up to six Educator of the Year award recipients from the portfolios submitted. RCTC’s Outstanding Educators, their colleagues from across the state, and the Educator of the Year award recipients will be honored at a system-wide reception in April.

 

The Minnesota State Educator of the Year recognition program was initiated in 2007. To date, RCTC has had six of its faculty members honored with this prestigious, system-wide award.

 

Established in 1915, RCTC is the largest higher education provider in the fastest-growing city in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 students a year in credit courses and nearly 3,700 in non-credit continuing and workforce education programs. RCTC combines the best in liberal arts, technical, and life-long learning with more than 70 credit-based programs and over 100 credential options. RCTC’s expansive 518-acre campus includes university partnerships, a diverse student body, and a vibrant student life program. RCTC provides a unique learning environment that offers the feel of a four-year university campus with the commitment to access and opportunity of a two-year college.

 

The Minnesota State system consists of 37 colleges and universities with over 16,000 employees offering nearly 4,000 educational programs to nearly 400,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system in the United States.

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RCTC is a member of the Minnesota State system.

 

RCTC AWARDED MINNESOTA JOB SKILLS PARTNERSHIP GRANT

(Rochester, MN) Rochester Community and Technical College’s Center for Business and Workforce Education, in collaboration with Crenlo Manufacturing, has been awarded a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant totaling $49,485. A grant signing ceremony will take place at Crenlo’s Valleyhigh Drive plant in Rochester at 10 am on January 16, 2019. 

Rochester and Southeastern Minnesota are facing workforce challenges due to rapid growth in the region’s manufacturing sector, significant wage competition, and low unemployment rates. Businesses like Crenlo are thinking differently about their hiring and training practices and are increasing investments in their current employees. The goal is to develop job advancement opportunities for those already employed by the company.

Located in Rochester, Crenlo has been in business for nearly 70 years and is a leading manufacturer of operator cabs, roll over protective structures (ROPS), server cabinet enclosures, and consoles engineered to protect sensitive electronic equipment. Although the products look vastly different, they both draw upon the same skill sets: world-class metal fabrication, cutting-edge robotic welding, high-level paint finishes and value-added assembly.

According to Brent Brockman, Crenlo’s Director of Human Resources, “This is a great time to invest in growing our workforce. We want to provide advancement opportunities for our incumbent workforce, and one of the largest growth areas to do this in, is within our welding department.”   

MJSP allocates grants to educational institutions that are working to expand employment opportunities in growth sectors within Minnesota’s economy to keep high-quality jobs in the state. These grants are distributed through the custom training departments at the colleges, which requires training to be developed specific to the partnering business’ needs. RCTC’s Director for Business and Workforce Education, Jennifer Wilson, Ph.D. states “The MJSP grant allows us to partner with Crenlo to create a workforce pipeline.” 

The grant comes at a time when employers like Crenlo are looking at alternative ways to focus on employee retention. Dr. Wilson added, “This grant will allow us to develop curriculum for an on-the-job training program both for individuals looking for job advancement and for current incumbent welders to attain advanced welding skills specific to the needs of Crenlo’s production line.”  By creating a pipeline where individuals have access to advanced training, there is added incentive for individuals to become employed and stay employed at that organization. 

For further information on RCTC’s MJSP grant, contact Dr. Jennifer Wilson at 507-529-2736.

Established in 1915, RCTC is the largest higher education provider in the fastest-growing city in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 students a year in credit courses and nearly 3,700 in non-credit continuing and workforce education programs. RCTC combines the best in liberal arts, technical, and life-long learning with more than 70 credit-based programs and over 100 credential options. RCTC’s expansive 518-acre campus includes university partnerships, a diverse student body, and a vibrant student life program. RCTC provides a unique learning environment that offers the feel of a four-year university campus with the commitment to access and opportunity of a two-year college.

 

The Minnesota State system consists of 37 colleges and universities with over 16,000 employees offering nearly 4,000 educational programs to nearly 400,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system in the United States.

 

RCTC RECEIVES DONATION FROM LUTHER AUTOMOTIVE

(Rochester, MN) Rochester Community and Technical College, on behalf of its Automotive Technology Program, proudly accepted the keys to a Hyundai Elantra today, generously donated by the Luther Automotive Group.  A brief ceremony held Wednesday featured the donated vehicle which will be utilized for training purposes in the Automotive Technician program. Ken Lentz, Service Manager at Park Place Motors of Rochester, presented the keys to the RCTC Automotive Technology students and instructors. 

 

RCTC Automotive Technician Instructor Dave MacLeod stated, “This is the first of many partnerships to donate a vehicle to RCTC. We look forward to working with the advanced technology to provide better training for our students to enhance their skills.” 

 

Jaxon Wager, a second-year student in RCTC’s Automotive Technician program added, “It is important to work on newer vehicles with all the new technology. Every bit of knowledge I gain in this program can be used in the field.” 


Luther Automotive also presented a gift card to the RCTC Automotive Technician program which can be used for purchasing Hyundai parts. Luther Automotive Group is the largest privately-owned dealership group in the Midwest.

 

For further information about RCTC’s Automotive Technician program, contact Lori Jensen, Interim Dean of Career and Technical Education, at 507-529-2720 or lori.jensen@rctc.edu.

 

 

Established in 1915, RCTC is the largest higher education provider in the fastest-growing city in Minnesota, serving more than 8,000 students a year in credit courses and nearly 3,700 in non-credit continuing and workforce education programs. RCTC combines the best in liberal arts, technical, and life-long learning with more than 70 credit-based programs and over 100 credential options. RCTC’s expansive 518-acre campus includes university partnerships, a diverse student body, and a vibrant student life program. RCTC provides a unique learning environment that offers the feel of a four-year university campus with the commitment to access and opportunity of a two-year college.

 

 

RCTC is a member of Minnesota State—a higher education system that includes 30 two-year community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving more than 430,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system of its kind in the United States.