Posted: December 31, 2003

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System reports training 18 percent more dislocated workers in fiscal year 2003 over the previous year. The system's colleges and universities enrolled 4,914 laid-off workers in programs leading to degrees and certificates, compared with 4,171 the previous fiscal year, according to preliminary numbers.

"Responding to the changing economic landscape of the state is an important part of the system's mission," said James H. McCormick, chancellor for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. "One of the most pressing needs recently has been to help large numbers of Minnesotans get back on their feet and into new careers in promising industries."

McCormick says the system's colleges and universities have developed a coordinated approach to responding to massive layoffs, and the system's statewide perspective has enabled it to more effectively anticipate industry trends.

While most displaced workers simply enroll in existing programs, colleges have adapted or created special programs in response to some massive layoffs in recent years.

"We often look to the marketplace and tap our industry connections to create unique programs to help those individuals quickly translate their current skills into something that is greatly needed in an emerging or growing industry," McCormick said.

Fifty laid-off airline employees enrolled this year in a new custom-designed program in medical technology at Dakota County Technical College created specifically for airline mechanics. A new program in fuel and oil processing technology was created for the same group at Inver Hills Community College.

In northeast Minnesota, new training and education programs were created in Hibbing, Ely, Grand Rapids, Virginia and Eveleth for displaced mine and mill workers. The five colleges in the Northeast Higher Education District created or adapted programs in carpentry, masonry, nursing and other areas to accommodate those displaced workers.

"We see this as a critical role for our colleges," said Joe Sertich, president of the Northeast Higher Education District, which now oversees five colleges in Northeast Minnesota. "We are an important part of the safety net, addressing critical human resource issues as they arise."

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities provides about 95 percent of all dislocated worker training in the state. Training is primarily delivered by the system's two year colleges, which have close ties with the state's workforce centers. Training and education for dislocated workers is typically less than one year in length.