Protesting the increasingly unfair advantage of the top 1 percent (arguably, economic conditions have gotten at least marginally better in recent decades for a somewhat larger 10 percent at the top) underlies much of the new energy around politics and policy these days. And that can be healthy, because the economic decline of the middle class and the working class is the biggest challenge of our times.
But it’s important to stay active and informed on a more constructive front as mainstream Minnesotans try to channel that anger and enthusiasm in 2012.
And one of the best new positive things going in Minnesota, coinciding with the Governor’s Job Summit this fall, is a new campaign called SKILLS@WORK, a joint project led by two major partners, the United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, and the Governor’s Workforce Development Council.
Key facts from the SKILLS@WORK website that you may have heard but need to keep top-of-mind.
- Seventy percent of Minnesota jobs will require some education beyond high school by 2018, yet only 40 percent of working-age adults in Minnesota hold a postsecondary degree. (We at Growth & Justice have been prodding state leaders to first simply set a goal of 75 percent post-secondary attainment by 2020. See our op-ed urging an attainment crusade earlier this month.)
- Nearly two million working-age Minnesotans lack a credential beyond a high school diploma.
- Furthermore, educational attainment levels are expected to decline in coming years – an unprecedented trend.
The alarming facts surrounding an educational equity gap for kids of color, which is grossly unfair to our fastest growing demographic groups, is a major factor for that last bullet. One of the better comprehensive formulas for improving that picture is contained in the document “All Hands on Deck,” which actually was produced by the Governor’s Workforce Development Council, under the previous administration and has strong input from the corporate and business world. The GWDC, in my opinion, is one of the most farsighted state agencies you’ve maybe never heard of. Plug in to it.