Staples, Minn.,
07:00 AM

NJPA Invites Businesses, Schools to Conversation to Address Workforce Gaps

STAPLES, Minn. (5 December 2016) - Local business owners, managers, school and college personnel, and community members are encouraged to attend the National Joint Powers Alliance® Building the 21st Century Workforce Conference to collaborate in college and career readiness activities on Friday, December 16 at NJPA's Staples location. The event is free and includes lunch.

NJPA Education Consultant and event coordinator Bart Graves says there is a gap in the Region 5 workforce between skills needed and skills available, and sees this as an opportunity for professionals on both sides of the issue to come together and develop creative solutions.

“We want to look at this from the business side and from the education side and see how we can pull things together to help students make career choices that meet the labor demands in our region,” Graves said.

He's particularly looking for attendees that represent the areas of high demand in the Region 5 workforce: agriculture, energy, transportation, manufacturing, robotics, culinary arts, and health care.

“We're trying to bring more businesses in for this conference and have discussions by industry,” Graves explained. “We want to know the needs of the workforce and how we can address them.”

The conference will open with a brief presentation, The Automated Workforce, by Kristi Westbrock, Chief Operating Officer at Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC) in Brainerd.

Updates from area programs and post-secondary institutions from across the state will follow, providing a better understanding of what's currently being done to address the workforce gap, and what resources are available.

In the afternoon, attendees will divide into career cluster collaboration meetings - small groups organized by industry and comprised of educators, program directors, and employers - to discuss best practices, challenges, partnership opportunities, and regional program planning.

“We hope local business and educators will come with ideas for planning, and that this will help build off what's currently available, plus provide a way for people to get more involved,” Graves said. “We want to set area students up for success; get them started in a good job, get them started in a training program, or set up with a mentor.”

For information and registration, visit, or contact Bart Graves at 320-349-0161.

About NJPA

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with over 200 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.