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Transcript - episode 17: Key workforce issues

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Note: Our Vital Connections On Air episodes are audio-based interviews. Written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.

Christy Kallevig: Welcome to Vital Connections on Air, a podcast brought to you by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality that explores the trends and topics important to communities and leaders throughout Minnesota. My name is Christy Kallevig and I'm an educator with University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality. Today, I'm excited to bring you Episode Two in our two-part workforce series wrap up.

Do you remember when Laura Kalambokidis, Minnesota State Economist and Extension Economist said this about exploring Minnesota workforce issues?

Laura Kalambokidis: It makes me excited to see what 10 years from now will look like and hopefully what we've done is we've created more flexible jobs and we've got people living in different places than they might have otherwise, and we've got people who might not have been in the workforce or are fully engaged in the workforce. And those, as I said, we've created those pathways and those connections between employers and organizations and the government and the community, and we've built those and that stays part of our assets, our economic assets for the State of Minnesota. Imagine if Minnesota is the state that thrives in this interesting new, diverse environment. It'll be an exciting place to study and work in.

Christy Kallevig: This thought inspired us at the Center for Community Vitality. We had been exploring the topic of workforce for well over a year when I met with Laura and she shared this in her podcast, but after a few more of us heard her dream, it ignited a conversation that we then took to the entire University of Minnesota and we invited a large group of researchers to come together to talk about workforce, to think about what we can do better, to understand the issue and how we can create change. Those in the room were given the responsibility to think like a scholar, but care like a concerned citizen by Kent Olson, the Dean of the Center for Community Vitality. Out of this day, relationships were developed, new research ideas were explored, and connections into communities were created. The previous episode, as well as this one, are wrap-ups from the symposium. Today, you will hear about specific workforce-related issues such as child care shortages, transportation challenges, housing availability, and healthcare through the lens of people who are working closely with these topics.

Christy Kallevig: We hope that this sampling will make you curious to learn more and have made the slides and all of the audio from the day available at z.umn.edu/workforcesymposium. Throughout today's episode, you will also hear some flashbacks to insights that were shared by previous podcasts guests who joined us throughout this workforce series. Scott Formo Sr., Mayor of Glenwood Minnesota and Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce there, joined us for episode 11 of the podcast. During that episode, he shares that he regularly hears concerns from new residents about housing in this small rural community and this led them to conducting a housing study to find out more about the needs of their residents.

Scott Formo Sr.: Some of the things we were hearing from people who were new to the area was that they were having a hard time finding both rental housing or homes to live in. Saying that, you know, they're coming here to try to find a new job, but either the homes that they were looking to buy needed a lot more work than what they wanted to put into it, or they were too expensive for them to be able to afford a starter home with just starting new jobs in the area.

Christy Kallevig: Ann Ziebarth, Rural Sociologist and Professor of Housing Studies at the University of Minnesota, discussed her concerns about workforce housing in Minnesota.

Ann Ziebarth: I just want to say that I'm a sociologist by trade and I've spent my career studying rural places, small towns. In particular, I look at housing as an indicator of those demographic changes, economic changes in social and political changes as well. So one is workforce housing. Let's begin with that. Workforce housing basically is often housing for workers, right? Workers and their family. So it could be anybody who is employed or wants to be employed and where they live. So we're talking about predominantly, in terms of community struggle with workforce housing. It's housing that is affordable, available for new employees. Often it's starting wages and so oftentimes the sort of metric that communities use is families with incomes between 60 and 120 percent of the area's median income. How do you know if you have that kind of housing? Well everybody does this? We're going to talk about five A's for housing.

Ann Ziebarth: First, you have to have housing stock that's available, right? It has to be there. You have to have ownership and rental opportunities that are available when people want to move into your town. Secondly, it has to be adequate. Those buildings, those structures have to be in good shape. Mechanical systems have to work, basic structural aspects of housing as a building. Third, it has to be affordable. The cost of that housing has to match the incomes of the workers that are in your particular community. It has to be appropriate. It has to meet the needs of the workers and their families in that place. So that means that it has to be the right size for the kinds of people who are coming to your community. So if you're attracting new immigrants, if those immigrants tend to have larger family sizes and you have one and two bedroom kind of housing available, it may not be appropriate for the families that you want.

Ann Ziebarth: And finally that housing, number five, needs to be, it needs to have certain accessible amenities, jobs, schools, healthcare, all those things that communities offer. Why care about workforce housing? Housing is an asset both for the families and for the communities, and as an asset, it creates the everyday lives, health and wellbeing of the people who live in it. It's a key for attracting and retaining workers. People won't stay if they have to commute too far. There's no place for them to live. It's a problem. Talk to the folks in Roseau, they'll tell you how difficult it is to recruit qualified workers in a community that doesn't have enough housing. It also affects the multiplier effect of economic development activities. Communities invest in economic development. They assume that they will not only get the return in terms of jobs, but also those other things.

Ann Ziebarth: Those other benefits to the community that it will affect their main street businesses, that the schools will have more students, that these jobs will also contribute to the development of the community as a whole and that's the multiplier effect. Is anyone here from Olivia, Minnesota? They had an economic development director who figured out at one point a number of years ago that attracting jobs wasn't enough. They had a new plant opening up. They had new people moving or anticipating new people moving into town. They didn't have housing available for those newcomers. They had senior housing. They had a few run-down trailer homes, but that wasn't going to attract people to their community and they figured out those folks were going to move someplace else if they didn't provide housing. Now, and in the end, they did, they were able to develop some nice middle-class sort of rental housing.

Ann Ziebarth: It gave people a place to move into town and then hopefully those people would buy homes and settle in and stay as well, freeing up that rental housing for more newcomers to come into the town. It wasn't a smooth trip and if anybody wants to talk to me about how that happened, I'd be happy to talk about it. It took them a long time and that's one of the problems. Affordability is key and it's only the income or the wages or the cost of the housing have to be balanced. And so we're always looking at that sort of match between housing costs imbalance. Here in Minnesota, the National Low Income Housing Coalition publishes information about rental cost and the housing wage, what it costs. How much you need to earn to afford a two-bedroom home in Minnesota statewide is about $18.60 an hour and or a monthly rent based on this income should be no more than $611. (Note: this statistic was corrected after this podcast via email to Ann Ziebarth and is accurate in this transcription).

Ann Ziebarth: There's no place in the state where even with the minimum wage, can [anyone] afford to live in a decent two bedroom home. We also have to be careful about affordability in terms of rules of thumb. We use a magic number, we use 30 percent of household income for housing cost and if people are paying more than that it's considered housing cost burden. That 30 percent, however, can be misleading. If it's on the very low end of the income, 30 percent may not leave you enough to pay for the rest of your housing expenses, health care, you know, food, insurance, everything else, transportation, anything else you need. Also, high wages just don't necessarily mean that you have affordable available housing. Think North Dakota oil boom when they are very high. So one of the big barriers is the lag in time in housing that occurs between what it takes to develop housing and when the jobs arrive.

Ann Ziebarth: So there's always a lag in that. And that's one of the challenges that communities have to anticipate the future. Housing is not fixed. It's grounded in place and that's key. Community leaders and sort of community ordinances, laws, land use planning, land use regulation, all impact housing. Two of our community Extension Educators and probably more are working on a project to compile case studies of local solutions to housing problems. And Ryan, can you wait…Ryan and Mary are taking some leadership on this and they've done a number of examples of case studies here in Minnesota. Claremont, Minnesota is a town of about 550 population and it's a problem, but it's using a team approach to solve the problem. My time's up here and I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts. One is workforce housing is embedded in the community. For most people, as Ryan was talking about, we worry about policies based on our own perceptions, on our own experiences. Most people live somewhere, and the leadership in most communities are living comfortably, and so housing is not necessarily a salient issue. There's some very interesting work going on about public perception and public opinions and leadership responsibility with regard to addressing this housing problem.

Christy Kallevig: Housing helps more than a town's economy. Ensuring that there's adequate housing available to those who want to live there is crucial to creating a vibrant community. As Ryan Pesch noted during our conversation in episode 11 on Glenwood's housing study.

Ryan Pesch: Well, I think when it comes to workforce housing, the major issue is you might have somebody that's commuting in for a job, but ideally you want to be able to retain that person and make them kind of a full citizen of the place. Right? So somebody is commuting into Glenwood, yeah, they might be doing a little shopping in town and so forth that has an economic impact. But, you know, it's quite a bit different when somebody makes Glenwood their home as opposed to a place where they just work. Not only do you have that economic impact as dollars and cents calculation about people spending and I would assume that would certainly go up, but you also have them as a bigger contributing member of everything from local service clubs to getting involved in school and bringing their own kids to the school. All of these things have an overall impact on kind of the vitality of the community. Without a doubt.

Christy Kallevig: Much like housing connects people to their job and the community, the availability of transportation is critical to helping people access the jobs they want or need while living in the community that they feel connected to. Yingling Fan, an Associate Professor at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, joined the symposium to share insights on transportation challenges that she has discovered within her research.

Yingling Fan: I also wanted to talk about transportation, right? Because when you have a spatial mismatch between jobs and where people live, it's important that there's a way to create a transportation connection. And when it comes to unemployed people they are more transit dependent than are other population groups. So it is important that we provide public transportation services. There are area advantage and also it's already important data points to potential solutions that residential segregation, the geographic disparity is part of the problem that led to spatial mismatch. They also find to choose particular importance of a spatial targeted and localized strategies for eliminating disparities. So it's important that we take advantage and pay attention to localized opportunities. But that's the prospect of the efforts that are targeted to specific communities and focus on jobs that are transit accessible. It's important, the need for workforce training. You understand that area, that advantage and if you make sure that people actually have transportation to get to those job opportunities, look at the entire pipeline, job seekers a skillset that interest available training and job reachable by transit and the interest to the employers. Because you probably will have a problem too if it needed to pretend that you have access to the workforce as well.

Yingling Fan: Reach out to employers who might partner, provide a regional service as the transit backbone, a small or local service near the workforce transportation issue. Very important when it comes to [the] workforce issue. The CEO job or a candidate oriented economic development in the wrong right it's important that we have jobs and more jobs transit accessible in this region. And finally, understand that you get this skill sets in disadvantaged areas of geospatial data on skills and the community strengths.

Christy Kallevig: Laura Kalambokidis discussed the innovative ways that employers are looking at both housing and transportation issues that were discussed by Ann Ziebarth and Yingling Fan when she joined us for episode six of the podcast, Minnesota's workforce.

Laura Kalambokidis: I think other people have seen this, but I think it's a fascinating trend, is large employers looking for pockets of workers in other parts of the metro area or other parts of the state and figuring out their own solutions to transportation and housing. I've heard of employers up north investing in multifamily housing in order to make that available for workers to come up and live and we know of employers in the twin cities, in the suburban areas that are busing folks from the city out to where the jobs are.

Christy Kallevig: Our workforce challenges are impacting industries differently. For sectors such as healthcare, it is one more thing that is impacting their ability to be financially successful, as well as how they work to serve those that are in need of their services.

Laura Kalambokidis: Minnesota is a healthcare state. We have a lot of people working in the healthcare industry. That is a sector that is important to the state and it is facing challenges. I've talked about geographically that in less densely populated parts of the state this is getting to be a critical issue is finding those workers. One of the big challenges there is that wages can't necessarily go up in those sectors because so much of those services are being paid for by the government. And so there's restriction on how much reimbursement, how much can be paid for Medicaid services and Medicare services. And so there's this block or this tension where people—if there were a market than the wage would probably go up—[but] the wage can't go up and so then you might have a sustained shortage.

Christy Kallevig: Dr. Jennifer Schultz, Co-Director of the Healthcare Management Program and Professor of Economics at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus, brought insights from her 25 years of research on health care reform and experience as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives to the symposium.

Jennifer Schultz: Well, we've been talking to healthcare workforce shortages for a long time, my entire career, so it's not something that's new. Fifteen years ago when I started at UMD, a clinic in Northeast Minnesota, rural clinic contacted me and my colleague Joe Klinger and wanted us to do a survey for them of why individuals were leaving their community and going to a larger healthcare clinic hospital system in Duluth. They wanted us to do a phone survey, collect information and we went up there and visited with the board members in some of their positions. And we said you don't need to spend any money on that survey because we can tell you why they're doing that because of the great research that has already been conducted. And why do you think people were leaving that small community and going to a larger community where their healthcare needs? Any guesses.

Audience member: More choices on doctors, more specialists.

Jennifer Schultz: There were two big reasons.

Audience member: Perception of quality.

Jennifer Schultz: There are two big reasons. Quality perception of quality, exceptional and privacy. Those are the number two reasons. So we didn't have to do that. So they ended up overcoming the perception that they were a lower quality provider. They had to advertise more about the great qualified physicians they did have on staff and they had to talk about how their information was private, so that's what they had to overcome. Today what they have to overcome is a lot different of why they're struggling in rural communities to provide healthcare and one of the reasons, one thing they're struggling with is a level of consolidation in healthcare systems. So we see this more and more. Now the metro area been integrated vertically and horizontally for a long time compared to other states. We're going to see the next 10 years, probably a 50 percent reduction in independent hospitals or hospitals that are associated with one system getting larger.

Jennifer Schultz: So this is putting pressure on rural communities' healthcare because providers are merging and acquiring other clinics and hospital systems are coming together so they have more bargaining power with insurance plan providers. Because there was consolidation on the insurance side, they gained more bargaining power on the table and now providers are needing more negotiating power so they can get reimbursed at a higher level. This hurts independent hospitals and clinics which are predominately in rural areas, because now they have less negotiating power and they get lower reimbursement rates for their services. It makes it much more difficult for them to cover their costs and higher because they have to pay more to get healthcare individuals to work in their community and that's putting more pressure on them financially to be able to attract good quality physicians and other providers in their community. There are some benefits to some of that consolidation and you may see some health systems going out into rural areas or small towns to buy clinics because they can benefit from electronic health records which are very expensive.

Jennifer Schultz: They can benefit from hopefully possibly lower cost due to economies of scale, but also just the amount of overhead would be reduced and working with other experts and specialists from that system to provide better care so you could see better outcomes. It may have prevented a small hospital from closing if they integrate with the larger system. So in Minnesota, we have about 129 hospitals. Seventy-seven of those hospitals are called critical access hospitals. We have the third highest in the nation of critical access hospitals. We have 16 federally qualified health centers that are serving, I believe 77 sites for those critical access to federally qualified health centers. And we have a lot of rural areas. So we have to figure out how can we make sure those healthcare clinics and hospitals survive. Because what happens when a rural hospital closes, it's very devastating for the community.

Jennifer Schultz: Um, this, there's been a lot of research done in Texas on how it increases drive times. You saw some researchers at the University of Minnesota look at abstract obstetric care and how we don't have a lot of obstetric care in rural Minnesota and that affects outcomes for the mother and for the baby. It may lead to a lot of job losses, sometimes that hospital is the largest employer in the community, so it can be very devastating and could lead to really a destruction of that community. So we have a lot of shortages. We have a mental health crisis now with the opioid crisis. We don't have enough mental health providers in rural Minnesota, so six times as many individuals per one mental health counselor in rural Minnesota, so much higher and much more availability in the urban areas. And this trend is true for dentists. We have problems with attracting dentists even into Duluth, which is not rural.

Jennifer Schultz: We have a hard time attracting dental providers and dental specialists. So it's about three times as many physicians, about two times primary care physicians in our UCs. So we have to look at how we can attract providers and what we can do to attract providers. So I have one minute left, so, so there's the solutions, I serve on two healthcare workforce commissions and committee as a legislator. So we learned a lot about what I'm trying to do in terms of policy. One is loan forgiveness. We've been defunding and not been plenty adequate forgiveness programs to get people to work. We have been trying to license more individuals, that level and lower level to work at the top of their license to practice. Does anyone know what AHEC is? Area Health Education Centers. Northeast Minnesota had the very first one. I don't think it's even around.

Speaker 5: I used to be on their board. We really underfunded those AHECs federally and at the state level. They are critical to educating individuals, very young individuals all the way from kindergarten through high school about healthcare careers because you need to go recruit individuals who live in the rural community and wanted to get educated in health care professions and then they'll go back. So we really haven't done a good job in funding AHECs, but new things on the horizon is telemedicine. To use telemedicine and technology to help those rural communities with healthcare—providing better healthcare. The other thing that we need to do in this state is to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates. People in rural communities tend to be lower income. They have more individuals on Medical Assistance and Medicare, which tends to pay less. Another good thing you could look at is what Northeast Minnesota did, was all the independent hospitals created their own loose network called Goldenus Health. And they help each other survive where they don't feel more pressure to join the larger healthcare system. They're working with each other more on improving quality, reducing costs, and using technology.

Christy Kallevig: Another industry hit hard by the shortage of workers has child care. Over the course of three podcasts, we discuss the challenges that this sector is experiencing. Marti Werner, director of research for the Center for rural policy development shared this specific workforce challenges that daycare centers in rural Minnesota face when she joined us for Episode 9, the child care challenge for Minnesota is workforce.

Marti Werner: Especially in rural areas, it's very hard to find staff. Partly because of the educational requirements that are required. Also just because of the workforce shortage these days in rural areas. It's very difficult to staff a daycare center and to staff it consistently to find people who can stay around. And so that's a big problem with daycare centers in rural areas too.

Christy Kallevig: Elizabeth Davis, Professor with the Department of Applied Economics, shared with those attending the symposium, what we know and what we need to know in order to invest wisely to support families, children, employers, and communities when dealing with the child care crisis.

Elizabeth Davis: Thank you. Good morning. I'm with the Department of Applied Economics Program on the St. Paul Campus. I'm going to talk to you about how cares about child care. Suddenly, everybody cares about child care. It's in the news. Legislators, economic developers, community leaders, employers, they've all discovered child care. Now parents of young children, and those working in the field, have always known that child care can be hard to find and it's usually expensive relative to your budget and for the most part parents needed in order to work. So why has this become such an issue now? Is the problem worse in some way then? So why? What's changed to make this to this point? So the first terminology, I'm going to refer to mostly child care. Sometimes it's called daycare, but it's also important to think about it as child care and early education. You really can't separate care that an adult needs to be with a child under age five and education because every experience of a young child affects the brain development for better or for worse.

Elizabeth Davis: We know that the gaps in skills and their preparedness start in really young children and grow. The disparities by income group grow between birth and kindergarten entry. So we really need to be thinking about broadly about child care and early education now as a combined experience for children. So why is it an issue now? Well, we really have a perfect storm. We have low unemployment rates, combined with high labor force participation rates for women in Minnesota in 2014. Three quarters of Minnesota households with children under age six had all parents in the workforce. That's the third highest in the nation. We have had a declining numbers of child care providers in Minnesota, especially licensed family child care providers. These are women, usually women, who provide care for other people's children in their home and in the provider's home. And at the same time, we have a growing recognition of the importance of early childhood development for later child outcomes as well as for supporting the current workforce and for development of the human capital of the teacher workforce.

Elizabeth Davis: Okay. So the headlines are all about the shortages. Shortage of child care Senate Bill [was] meant to ease the child care shortages. Twenty six percent of Minnesotans live in a child care desert. That sounds pretty bad. We don't want to live in a desert; but the focus here is really all on supply. So what's the facts? Well, yes, we've had seen a large decline in the number of licensed family child care providers in Minnesota. Almost 30 percent decline over the decade, 2005-2015. So one thing to notice is this has been going on for a while, this decline. It's not just the past couple years with new regulations, it's been a pretty steady decline. It has been somewhat offset in some places by increases in the number of child care centers. Okay. So that's outside of someone's holding a separate building or sometimes in a church or a school. That's primarily happening in the Twin Cities area and in larger towns and small cities. So the capacity--that is the number of children who can be served in licensed child care has been declining statewide about five percent over that decade. But the declines and the shortages really are very localized. These trends differ in different places. And so in some places this was a much bigger issue than in others.

Elizabeth Davis: But there's some things that aren't new about this crisis. So it's not new that child care is expensive relative to the budgets of young families. Families with young children usually are at the beginning of their careers, they're the lower end of their earnings trajectories. On average, low-income families who pay for child care spend about 20 percent of their income on child care, compared to about six percent for higher income families. At the same time, those who work in this field, the child care teachers and child care providers tend to be low paid. Even compared to people with similar education levels. So the median hourly wage, this is nationally for child care teachers with a bachelor's degree is less than $15 an hour. And finally, what's not new is that we know that high quality child care and early education can break the link between family income and disparities in school readiness as well as supporting the current workforce.

Elizabeth Davis: Okay. So I'm going to talk about three things that I think are missing from this current debate or current focus on the shortage and the crisis in child care. Okay. It's not all about the supply. Some of what's happening is changing parent preferences about the type of child care they use. Parents seem to be preferring to put their children more often in center-based care then in licensed family homes. So this decline in the family child care providers is happening across the nation. And in fact in some states it's much higher, a much more rapid decline than in Minnesota.

Elizabeth Davis: We need to be thinking about affordability. So for families, unlike K-12 education, the majority of funding for early care and education, who's paying for it is parents. Okay. In K-12, it's the public sector that's paying for most of it. So the lack of supply, to some extent reflects a lack of demand, because parents can't afford it. And we also need to be thinking about quality. Quality really matters for child outcomes and for families choosing where they're going to put their kids, the providers of child care and early education needs stable funding in order to make and sustain quality improvements. So saying that child care is too expensive or unaffordable doesn't mean that lower prices is the solution. We need a deeper understanding of what our parents can afford is driving the supply and quality in the market.

Elizabeth Davis: So I want to tell you briefly that there are some innovative things going on around Minnesota in terms of child care and early education. There have been a number of communities. I'm trying to come up with community-based solutions to the shortage problem. So some examples are places in which they're figuring out how to host three or four family child care providers, not in their homes, but together in a county building. There are organizations like First Children's Finance that provide business training and loans to help make providers be more sustainable and have a better business practices and employers are engaging in public, private partnerships to helps try to solve the shortage problem. But I think we need to think beyond the supply issues and consider ways in which we can tackle the affordability and the quality issues as well. So some ideas might be to increase the payment rates in the child care assistance program or to increase funding for that program and for early learning scholarships and decrease creating incentives and support for providers who are providing quality care.

Elizabeth Davis: So we do need research. Me, I'm an academic…we always need research. Some of the research that Aaron Sojourner (who is in the room) and I are working on is looking at improved measures of access. So moving beyond the supply to identify areas which have low access—based not just on the supply but on affordability, cost and quality--and looking at it from a family-centered spatial point of view rather than that based on a particular area. We also need to know more about market responses to the policy and funding changes. There have been a lot of those in Minnesota over the last few years, but we need to know how that's affecting both providers and families. The expanded role for employers--there's not been much research on that. And finally, if we're able to demonstrate the links between quality investments and outcomes, we'll know more about how better to invest public dollars.

Christy Kallevig: As Elizabeth Davis pointed out, there are questions to explore and things to discuss, as we work to better understand child care in Minnesota. Laura Kalambokidis also shared that she believes that we must continue to discuss this challenge and work towards solutions in order to get everyone into the workforce, as well as to prepare our future workforce.

Laura Kalambokidis: This is one of the critically important issues in trying to get everybody into the game because people make rational decisions. I'm an economist. I tend to think people make mostly rational decisions. Of course, we know there's not always the case, but when I think about someone deciding what job to take or how much to work and they've got a family, they've got kids at home. So you sit down at the kitchen table and you figure it out. Like…I can take this job making this much money per hour and I'm going to then I'm going to have to pay this much per hour for child care and transportation and extra food costs because I'm not going to be making dinner at home. So, you know, everybody, people, couples do this…families do this. They figure it out and if child care costs more than what they can make, it's going to be a no-brainer.

Laura Kalambokidis: They're going to say, "I'm going to say I'm going to continue to take care of my kids at home and wait this out." And why would child care cost so much? Well, it's going to cost a lot in places where it scarce. Maybe there is child care and maybe it's not that expensive, but its 20 miles in one direction and the job I want is 20 miles in the other direction and when you add up the transportation costs, it's not worth it. So having a greater supply of child care options and more flexibility in terms of work options can draw more people into the workforce. Another aspect of child care is that we know that early childhood education investment in high quality early childhood education is an investment in that future workforce we need.

Christy Kallevig: Topics shared during the symposium and the discussions that we had during our podcasts were just a tip of a very large iceberg. There are more conversations to be had and more questions to ask, but let's start by doing what Ken Bartlett, Professor for the Human Resource Development Program with the College of Education and Human Development urged us to do when he spoke at the symposium.

Ken Bartlett: I encouraged us to change the way we look at things because when we do that, we tend to change.

Christy Kallevig: As we changed the way we look at things, let's make sure that we remember to continue looking at Minnesota's economy and workforce as an asset. Just as Laura Kalambokidis described it during her podcast visits:

Laura Kalambokidis: One of the state's greatest economic assets is the diverse economic base. Um, another of our great assets is our strong workforce. We have a well-educated workforce and very high labor force participation. That's another asset for us.

Christy Kallevig: As we close out this series, Exploring Minnesota Workforce, what are your thoughts? What questions do you have that you think we should be considering? Share those ideas and join the conversation by commenting on the podcast, leaving a message on our Facebook page or sending us a tweet. Remember that you can see all of the presentations from the symposium, including slides and the full audio at z.umn.edu/workforcesymposium. Learn more about the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality at extension.umn.edu/community-development. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new research and resources for communities and those who lead them. Please join us again for another episode of Vital Connections on Air.

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