MnSCU Responds to Airline Industry Layoffs

Posted: October 15, 2001

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Within days of the announcement of massive layoffs by Northwest and Sun Country airlines, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities leaders joined the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development and the Minnesota Department of Economic Security to form a rapid response team to help thousands of displaced workers who may seek education and training for re-employment.

"These are extraordinary times for Minnesota," said James H. McCormick, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "We recognize the urgent needs of these individuals. Our capacity to provide career and academic counseling, find the right educational programs, coordinate resources and quickly create new programs makes us uniquely positioned to respond."

In the Twin Cities, representatives from the 10 two-year colleges and Metropolitan State University met with about 700 displaced workers at an emergency job fair on October 3. Leaders from the 11 MnSCU institutions also are meeting jointly with the seven affected unions to provide information and fast access to educational opportunities. In addition, the 11 institutions are reaching out to displaced workers through the state's system of Workforce Centers, which are typically the first stop for unemployed workers seeking information about unemployment benefits and jobs.

In northeastern Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are responding to the needs of about 45 laid-off workers from the Northwest Airlines reservation facility in Chisholm.

The MnSCU system also has arranged for all affected airline and related employees to have free access to a personalized on-line career tool that can help them identify their strengths and match their results to 900 job descriptions. The tool, called the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential, is offered free for one month by International Assessment Network, a Minnesota company. Displaced workers can take the assessment on-line and bring the results in to any of the 11 Twin Cities institutions where counselors will interpret results and identify career training needs and opportunities.

The 11 MnSCU institutions in the Twin Cities offer hundreds of programs that take one-year or less to complete. The institutions work regularly together on academic programming, marketing and creating customized training programs for groups of workers who need very specific skills. MnSCU officials are working with airline and union representatives to identify the various needs for customized training among the affected workers. MnSCU has identified several potential sources of funding for such programs including financial aid, employer funds, federal funding for dislocated workers, union-based funds and targeted funding from the federal government for the airline industry.

"The downsizing of Minnesota's airline industry is a major setback that impacts the lives of thousands of Minnesotans," said Ronald Thomas, President of Dakota County Technical College, one of two colleges leading the MnSCU response in the Twin Cities. "Many of our programs are at capacity, but we will not turn people away. Our referral network in the Twin Cities is up and running, and we will do everything possible to accommodate these individuals and create new educational opportunities when necessary."

The 11 MnSCU institutions in the Twin Cities are Anoka-Hennepin Technical College, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Century College, Dakota County Technical College, Hennepin Technical College, Inver Hills Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College, St. Paul Technical College and Metropolitan State University.

In northeastern Minnesota, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and Hibbing Community College are working with the Northwest reservation facility in Chisholm.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is made up of 34 state universities, community colleges and technical colleges and serves about 216,000 students annually in credit-based courses. The system also serves approximately 6,000 employers annually providing customized contract training for employees.