Develop Workforce Strategies

graphic of the Workforce Optimization Cycle showing the 6 stages: Assess Your Business, Project Labor Demand, Workforce Gap Analysis, Develop Workforce Strategies, Communicate & Implement, Monitor, Evaluate & Adapt

As Minnesota continues to reopen under the Stay Safe MN Plan, DEED’s Workforce Strategy Consultants (WSC) produced the Workforce Optimization Cycle (WOC), which walks businesses through best strategies when reestablishing their workforce.

As part of the Planning for Economic Recovery series, each week we expand on a different stage of the WOC. This week’s focus is stage 4: Develop Workforce Strategies. While it is critical to establish and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to ensure a safe work place, there are numerous other workforce strategies to help your business be successful during COVID-19.

Building a strong talent pipeline is at the core of business productivity. Redesigning your hiring and training programs will help business shift from a reactive to a proactive approach in recruiting. When businesses successfully build and communicate career path opportunities within their company, it increases employee morale and decreases turnover. Employees feel they are in control of improving their job skills and potentially increasing their pay, which builds their self-esteem and in turn, loyalty to the company.

This article will dive into grants, apprenticeships and numerous other resources your company can use to build a stronger, more efficient workforce for years to come.

DEED Training Grants

DEED has several training grants that work with businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities, and keep high-quality jobs in Minnesota. These grant programs provide great opportunities for businesses to redefine their internal training programs and develop a stronger employee pipeline by showing potential hires how jobs can become careers.

The Partnership Program offers grants of up to $400,000 to educational Institutions that partner with businesses to develop new-job training or retraining for existing employees. Pathways Program provides grants up to $400,000 to educational institutions or nonprofit organizations that partner with businesses to provide training, new jobs, and career paths for low income people.

Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) supports training grants of up to $200,000 to new or expanding businesses located in Greater Minnesota. Low Income Worker Training Program offers grants of up to $200,000 to public, private, or nonprofit entities to help low-income people gain new skills necessary move up the career ladder to higher paying jobs and greater economic self-sufficiency.

Automation Training Incentive Pilot Program (ATIPP) offers training grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses that are implementing new automation technology. The grants are designed to offset training-related expenses businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations incur to meet workforce needs.

DLI Apprenticeships

DLI has three programs to help your business grow skilled workers, customize your employee training, and develop a diverse workforce that fits your company’s needs.

Apprenticeship grants assist employers with costs associated with developing apprenticeship programs. Employers can receive up to $5,000 for each apprentice to help cover costs including apprenticeship-related supplies, materials, instruction and infrastructure in the industries of: advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, information technology and transportation.

Dual Training Pipeline is an innovative approach to address current and future workforce needs. Pipeline is an earn-while-you-learn approach where the employer invests in their employee by providing training in competency-based work skills and related instruction. The program supports employers in creating or enhancing a competency-based dual-training approach where workers receive a combination of related instruction strategically paired with on-the-job training. 

Youth Skills Training (YST) program encourages, promotes and supports the development of local partnerships between schools, employers, and community organizations. These local partnerships provide students with related classroom instruction, safety training, industry-recognized credentials and paid work experience in high-growth and high-demand occupations in the industries of advanced manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, health care and information technology. 

Regional Training Partners

DEED and CareerForce work closely in our communities and with our regional service partners to assist businesses wanting to diversify their workforce. Many of the programs offer support for career seekers with a variety of skills, including veterans, young adults, immigrants, workers with disabilities and those dislocated by layoffs or closings.

HR can embrace innovative recruitment ideas by reaching out to select workforce groups such as hiring older adults (55+) through the Senior Community Service Employment Program; Employment Services for Veterans; Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment (HIRE); Vocational Rehabilitation Services for people with disabilities, and State Services for the Blind. Businesses need to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

Businesses can reach out to regional service partners to learn more about and engage in On the Job Training (OJT) for new hires, Transitional Job Opportunities (TJO), Work Experience for Young Adults (ages 16-24), and Incumbent Worker Training to upskill existing workers.

Other Great Tools

Relationships with high school teachers, college educators and Adult Basic Education (ABE) facilitators should also be considered when designing your talent pipeline. is the largest job bank in Minnesota and offers employers the opportunity to post job openings and do a reverse job-skills search on resumes of those seeking employment for no fee.

Businesses, especially in rural communities, should promote their career pathways opportunities, as well as their small-town way of life, lower cost of living, great school districts, short drive to work, teleworking, flex scheduling and shift options as part of their benefits. Daycare reimbursements, buying daycare slots for employees and local care subsidizes are also a great benefit to offer staff.

The WSC team are experts in obtaining resources to build and improve the talent pipelines of various industries and have strong relationships within their regions to assist with your needs. WSCs can connect businesses with online job matching platforms, align companies with training dollars for new hires and incumbent workers, among other services needed to assist your business with its workforce needs. 

Workforce Strategy Consultant Author:

Della Ludwig - Workforce Strategy Consultant for Central Minnesota


Related content:

Main Workforce Optimization Cycle page

Previous Workforce Optimization Cycle blog post in series: Workforce Gap Analysis

Next Workforce Optimization Cycle blog post in series: Communicate and Implement