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Minnesota Chamber of Commerce official: Young workers may lack job basics

As vice president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Byers spends a lot of time listening to the concerns of employers across the state.

This is what she's hearing:

Many young people entering the workforce do not have basic abilities employers are looking for, such as the understanding they need to show up for work on time and make an effort to get along with co-workers.

"We're really hearing that from employers, and it's regardless if they (workers) have a high school education or college education," Byers said.

"If that isn't inherent anymore, how do we teach that?" she asked, adding that the state chamber is talking with higher education officials to address that question. The chamber also wants to make sure graduates and the skills they pick up in school are aligned with the demands of the job market.

Byers told The Forum's editorial board Thursday that some job sectors are hungry for workers, particularly the manufacturing world.

"We continue to hear about the lack of people working in welding and machining - high-skilled, well-paid jobs that are just starving for folks," she said.

In an overview of the recent Minnesota Legislative session, Byers said the state chamber was pleased that Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill designed to expedite the environmental permitting process. There are signs it is already improving things for Minnesota businesses, she said.

On the other hand, she said the chamber was disappointed Dayton vetoed a so-called "last-in-first-out" bill that would have allowed teacher performance to be a factor when layoffs are made.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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