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The challenges of navigating MN Workforce Participation Goals

For large projects with significant public funding, it is reasonable for local officials and residents to expect tax dollars to be reinvested back into the community. Often, that payback comes in the form of special hiring requirements.

Since 1985, the State of Minnesota has had special hiring requirements for state-funded projects. But when bidding on billion-dollar construction projects, any special hiring requirements in place can be a hurdle for contractors considering entering a bid.

Minnesota's workforce goals

Minnesota sets Workforce Participation GoalsĀ for publicly funded contracts in excess of $100,000 with more than 40 full-time employees. The goals are meant to create discrimination-free workplaces and offer employment and training opportunities for minorities and women. The goals are measured by percentages of total hours.

In Hennepin and Ramsey counties the goal is 32 percent people of color and 20 percent women in the workforce. For the surrounding metro area counties the goal is 22 percent people of color and 15 percent women.

The remainder of the state is divided into five segments. The northwest and northeast section goals are 12 percent people of color and 9 percent women. In southeast and southwest Minnesota the goals are 15 percent people of color and 9 percent women. Central Minnesota goals are 15 percent people of color and 12 percent women.

Challenges for contractors

For contractors, meeting hiring requirements poses a challenge as the industry has struggled with persistent labor shortages. An estimated 1.5 million construction workers left the industry during the recession and less than half have returned. In addition to the shortage of new workers, contractors must contend with an aging workforce.

Although many construction organizations are attempting to encourage students and young workers to enter the industry, so far their efforts have yielded few results. Trade and vocational schools have also seen a decrease in admission as students are choosing four-year colleges. The labor-constrained supply is struggling to keep up with increasing demand as construction opportunities swell.

Contractors and construction companies seeking work in Minnesota should be mindful of any special hiring requirements when bidding on publicly funded jobs.

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