Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Federal visit recognizes unique education/employment center partnership

United States Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez visited the Burnsville WorkForce Center and South of the River Education Center Friday, May 16. As part of his visit, Perez met with the Dakota Scott Workforce Investment Board, toured the facility and then spent an hour with an employer panel focusing on the areas of technology/manufacturing, construction and healthcare. 

"It was an honor for Burnsville to host the Secretary to highlight a one-of-a-kind WorkForce Center in our country, "said Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz. "What makes it different is our partnership with higher education organizations. The model allows our job candidates to gain missing knowledge or skill sets that will allow them to be gainfully employed."

The Burnsville site opened in June 2013 and quickly gained national attention as a collaborative that includes a WorkForce Center and a 2-year college and a 4-year university, Inver Hills Community College and Metro State University, respectively, at a single location. The colleges began offering classes at the site in fall 2013.

"What we were able to demonstrate for Secretary Perez is the value of working together — local and state staff, Workforce Board members and community partners. We spotlighted many of the fantastic projects going on within our state to serve displaced workers, youth, veterans and long-term unemployed," noted Cathy Weik, former chairperson of the Dakota Scott Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and current Chairperson of the Minnesota Workforce Council Association.

Rick Martagon, WIB member and Apprenticeship Coordinator for Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, Local Union 1 MN/ND added, "It was fantastic to see Secretary Perez's enthusiasm and understanding about the career opportunities in the construction trades and how apprenticeships play an important role in workforce development."

Additionally, he stressed the importance of industry-driven collaborations to bring people into the workforce.

"The time Secretary Perez took to learn about the relationship between the WorkForce Center and South of the River Education Center was appreciated. We believe the relationship between the Workforce Center and the colleges will more effectively meet the needs of area businesses and citizens looking to be retrained or to complete the college programming they once began," added Anne S. Johnson, M.B.A., Interim Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College.

Secretary of Labor Perez's bio and photo http://www.dol.gov/_sec/

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