Working to Address Our Regional Community’s Workforce Needs

As the largest two-year community and technical college in northeastern Minnesota, Lake Superior College provides more than 90 affordable programs and services including allied healthcare, manufacturing and technical programs, continuing education and customized training for business and industry partners, and liberal arts and science courses for transfer to one of our four-year university partners. Whether students pursue an in-demand two-year degree or attend their first couple years at LSC to save thousands of dollars before transferring to a university, many LSC alumni choose to remain in, and contribute to, our community. In most of our area’s largest industries, Lake Superior College graduates are helping meet our community’s rapidly changing and growing workforce needs.

Career Pathways

Lake Superior College strives to work with school districts, employers, and community partners to ensure the training and preparation provided matches the skill sets needed in today and tomorrow’s workforce.

In 2022, LSC took the lead to create a bold plan that focuses these sectors to develop clear career pathways from 9th or 10th grade through graduate school. But it is not only about degrees and diplomas: Many businesses and industries do not require traditional degrees or diplomas. Yet they do seek employees who have certain knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with industry certifications. These credentials can and should lead to more advanced credentials as an employee becomes more experienced. How can high schools, colleges, and universities support these needs?

Building on the career pathway/program of study work already accomplished in our Perkins region (see Lake Superior Consortium), LSC reached out to its business and industry partners with APEX, LSC Perkins Consortium partner school districts, University partners (the College of St. Scholastica, University of Minnesota Duluth, Bemidji State University, Metropolitan State, and University of Wisconsin Superior), Duluth ISD 709, Duluth Workforce, DEED, and many other community partners to determine how best to meet the workforce needs in healthcare and manufacturing.

To organize and facilitate this large project, LSC engaged the services of the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD). CORD provided their proven successful approach to creating career pathways with current and future needs of businesses and industries in mind.

With CORD’s support and guidance, LSC convened two major industry summits: one in healthcare and one in manufacturing.

The ultimate goal is to connect the career pathways/program of study work already in process in our Perkins region with LSC’s credit and non-credit programs to create “stackable credentials” within career pathways that are easily understood and directly designed by business and industry alongside secondary and post-secondary faculty. Stackable credentials deliberately include industry embedded credentials that lead directly to employment at any point along the pathway. Students may stop out and work and jump back in and continue. Current workers may start where they are and gain the next level of credentials.

C.O.R.D. Diagram

Following the model developed by CORD, LSC has established Business and Industry Leadership Teams (BILT) in both industries as a major step to ensure a high level of engagement of these industries in the design and implementation of stackable credentials. The focus is on the knowledge, skills, and abilities these industries expect from learners at each level of learning.

The career pathways in healthcare and in manufacturing will include embedded industry certifications, credit for prior learning and experience, customized training, and opportunities for business and industry to both co-design the curriculum and support learners (their workforce) along the way through internships, earn and learn scheduling, job shadowing, preferred interviews, tuition reimbursement, on-site experiences, equipment, and expertise for teaching.

The work includes the creation of easy to understand and graphically presented career pathway maps for middle and high school students and for adult learners who want to pursue a particular career. All learners will be able to see where their individual starting point is along the career pathway. Counselors and advisors and industry partners can see where the learner or potential employee’s starting point is and will be better able to guide the learner toward his or her goals.

LSC and our partners expect to publish the career pathway maps in healthcare and manufacturing by spring of 2023.

*Stackable Credentials graphic courtesy of CORD.