What We Can Learn From Minnesota's Rising Trade Training

What We Can Learn From Minnesota’s Rising Trade Training

States around the country are continuing to face a major labor shortage, but a piece from MPR News featured how Minnesota has seen a surge in skilled-trades training despite the shortage. The approach and partnerships they’ve taken on within their market is something to be admired and a strategy followed, if possible. Here’s how Minnesota has persisted despite the nationwide industry challenges.

Employee Development

The piece started with a scenario in which an employee at Ziegler CAT expressed interest to his boss about wanting to eventually progress within the company, to which his manager immediately responded positively. The manager not only suggested a local technical college to get a degree in the area the employee was interested in, but also got the company to offer reimbursement for school costs AND allowed him to adjust his working hours so he could still work full-time while still in school.

It’s important to support your current employees and speak with them regularly about their goals and what the aspire to do within your dealership. It could be an eye opening conversation and help you learn about the career paths your employees would eventually like to take.

Internship Opportunities  

Your dealership should consider utilizing the technical schools nearby and create internship opportunities for current students. For example, Ziegler CAT helped create an internship for Dakota County Tech’s heavy construction equipment students, who then typically move on to become full time employees post-graduation. A representative from the company even said they hired 14 students from the program last year!

As for the auto mechanic program, internships went from 15 to 24 in the last four years. And the civil engineering program went from 15 to 22 in three years, so there is a clear upward trend here!

Student Sourcing

Outside of just internship opportunities, Dakota County Tech sees its students within the automotive technology program getting hired before they’ve even graduated. It’s seen such a demand for students that it’s been reported 4th semester students aren’t available for hiring, nor third or second semester because they’ve already been offered jobs! So companies are looking at students in just their first semester for potential hiring.

Companies also know they need to make it worth a prospective employee’s while. The median wage for a construction trades job in Minnesota last spring was $17.63 per hour, which is now up 24 percent from $14.19 offered in the same period in 2014. Additionally, starting salaries for a technician at Ziegler CAT construction average more than $50,000 a year.


While not all of these scenarios may be applicable to your dealership or feasible for it, it’s important to take a creative look at how you can bring in talent to your company where needed. Are there any other strategies your dealership has used in the labor shortage that has helped your hiring process? Leave them in the comments below!


Kelsey Fritz
Kelsey is the Marketing Coordinator at Commercial Web Services where she monitors the latest marketing advancements to better educate dealers on marketing trends that can further their business goals.

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