Exciting, Dynamic, Challenging Work: What Workforce Strategy Consultants Do

image of Shawn Herhusky, NE MN Workforce Strategy Consultant

I am one of the seven regional CareerForce Workforce Strategy Consultants. One of the things I love about this work is that every day is different. That makes describing a day in the life a bit tricky, but I’m going to try my best to break it down in this blog post.

The typical day can start a few different ways. We could be reporting to the CareerForce location where we are based or we might be traveling to meetings throughout our region. The seven Workforce Strategy Consultants cover vast areas similar to the regional Labor Market Analysts or Business Development Representatives. For example, I cover the seven counties of Northeast Minnesota. Seven doesn’t sound like much, but at 6,860 square miles, Saint Louis County is the largest county in the United States east of the Mississippi River. It’s even larger than Rhode Island, Delaware or Connecticut! My counterpart in the Northwest of the State covers 26 counties. While the Workforce Strategy Consultants in the metro do not cover as vast a geographic area, they serve a much higher population with many more employers and community partners.

Meetings to Move Workforce Development Forward

So, you might ask, what are these meetings we are driving all over Minnesota to attend?

Most of the Workforce Strategy Consultants serve on a workforce boards and sub committees in different capacities. We provide input at the local workforce development board meetings and the regional board meetings. We may chair committees for those boards focused on strategic workforce issues.

We also partner with economic development and other community organizations. For example, Della Ludwig, the Central Minnesota Workforce Strategy Consultant, chairs the Workforce Committee of GPS::45::93, which is economic development consortium for that part of the state. They hold an annual “Innovative Career Readiness” event for businesses and school leaders to share how they can work more closely together. I serve on Committees for three Chambers of Commerce in my area: Laurentian Chamber’s Emerging Leaders, Hibbing Chambers Business Expansion and Retention Committee and the Grand Rapids Workforce Development Committee.

There are some professional organizations Workforce Strategy Consultants interact with regularly as well. Jessica Miller and Della Ludwig are very involved in the Society for Human Resource Management, and are presenting at their MN SHRM conference in October. Adesewa Adesiji, one of the Metro Workforce Strategy Consultants, attends quarterly meetings for the Healthcare Education Industry Partnership and MN Technology Corridor quarterly.

Ongoing engagement with workforce boards and other government and community organizations is critically important to our mission to: Develop innovative workforce solutions by aligning resources, facilitating collaboration, and leveraging expertise in targeted industry sectors to drive economic equity and growth.

Business Engagement and Strategic Solutions

We also often meet with business leaders, either one on one, as part of our sector initiatives or through an employer’s membership on one of the boards we work with. We also work with businesses referred to us by other partners looking for information on best practices or DEED grants.

One point of confusion that comes up is how we work with businesses. If a business is looking for five new employees and wants immediate help to fill those specific positions, we would introduce them to a CareerForce staff or partner who can offer that assistance.

However, if a business wants to take a more strategic look at why they had difficulty in finding employees – that’s where we come in. Do they include unnecessary requirements in their job postings that create a barrier to candidates who could be a good fit? Is there is no local training program for a required credential or degree? Are they not casting a wide enough net in their candidate search? Do they need help establishing a sustainable talent pipeline?

Workforce Strategy Consultants work with employers to answer these sorts of questions to get at strategic workforce solutions. If it’s an issue with local access to needed training, for example, a Workforce Strategy Consultant can bring together representatives from the company and a local training provider to explore customized training. We might even be able to find ways to get grant funding for the training.

Special projects and events

All of the Workforce Strategy Consultants are part of the planning team for Construct Tomorrow and the Tour of Manufacturing. Some of us take larger planning roles, for example my metro counterpart Liz Jennings is coordinating materials with Communications for this year’s Tour of Manufacturing and has taken more of a lead role in planning. In another example from Northeast Minnesota, we’ve had three Healthcare Workforce Summits that I played a large role in planning and implementing. In Central Minnesota, Della Ludwig has been involved in the creation and implementation of “Untapped Workforce” employer events including Disabilities, Senior Workers, Veterans, Immigrant Employment and Fair Chance hiring events. She is also an integral part of the planning team for both the EPIC and Ignite career exploration events.

Presentations to Share Insights, Answers

We present on many workforce topics including best practices in hiring and retaining employees, overcoming barriers to employment, discussions of the current labor market and more. The audiences also vary, one time it could be conference attendees and the next time it’s industry partnerships. Della Ludwig has presented at Greater St Cloud Community Development Employer Conference. Jessica Miller presented labor market data to a community that was interested in attracting more diverse people. I’ve presented on recruiting and retaining talent in the human services and healthcare fields at the Saint Louis County Health and Human Services Conference, and along with Adesewa Adesiji, the Rural Healthcare Conference. Sometimes we co-present as well with other agencies. I recently presented with the Community Health Board on the Opioid Crisis and its effect on Workforce for the Laurentian Chamber’s Policy committee.

The Workforce Strategy Consultants have a wide range of experience. Sometimes we cross regional borders because our specific experience is a better fit for what is needed in a different part of the state. For example, when a city in Northeast Minnesota I was working with had questions specific to immigration from Puerto Rico I asked Jessica Miller to join the discussion, since she had more knowledge in this from work in her area and could speak to her experience and provide expert resources to that group.

Workforce Strategy Consultants have also been invited to present on a national stage. For example, Adesewa Adesiji and I spoke at the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals Conference about overcoming barriers to employment and on building successful sector partnerships.

Exciting, Dynamic, Challenging Work

My hope in you reading this blog post is that you get a feel for the day to day work of a Workforce Strategy consultant. It’s exciting. It’s dynamic. Sometimes it’s challenging. But it’s never ever boring. We build relationships, educate, make connections between people and resources, and assist our regional leaders, community partners and Minnesota employers in building a better workforce.

Find out which Workforce Strategy Consultant serves your region when you Meet Your Regional Team.