From left: State Rep. Joe Mullery, Emma Corrie, Roger Banks. Back row: Ashanti Payne, Patrick Baldwin, Lester Collins, David Zander. (Photos by J. Lee)
By J. Lee
MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 25, 2010) State Representative Joe Mullery (58A) convened a panel of officials and representatives from various state agencies at Folwell Park, Minneapolis as part of his work on 2010 legislation for more minority jobs. Rep. Mullery’s Committee Administrator Patrick Baldwin facilitated the forum, which was attended by Brian Shekleton, Committee Administrator for Rep. Phyllis Kahn (59B). Most bills related to jobs would go through Kahn’s committee, according to Mullery.
Mullery said that he is working with a “goal to gather existing data, assess current minority hiring, and construct a plan to implement strategies to bring about tangible and measurable improvement in state hiring, training and retention of minorities.”
One panelist, Emma Corrie, Workforce Business Development Project Manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, provided a report on MnDOT minority hiring. She said that of its 4,530 employees, 88 were Asians.
MnDOT construction projects receiving federal funding also have minority hiring goals. Corrie said that of 1873 employees hired on projects using these grants, 19 were Asians, and 2 of 99 were apprentices.
MNDOT hires minority and economically disadvantaged students from the Seeds Program and the Phoenix Program for pre-engineering. The Seeds-Pathways Pilot Program disabilities is a collaborative between MNDOT and the State Department of Employment and Economic Development.
There were 25 Asian in these programs. No Asians were hired from the MNDOT partnership with the Department of Human Services MFIP program. She said that one or two Asians per year have been in the Graduate Engineer/Land Surveyor Program, and MNDOT’s Temporary Transportation Associate Program placed 4 Asians in 2009.
Mullery continued with discussion of his work to get place more women in the trades and non-traditional jobs. He answered questions on Affirmative Action plans, ethnic data collection and tracking, and methods of hiring qualified applicants.
“There’s still a need for cultural competency in State agencies,” said Roger Banks of the Council on Black Minnesotans. “Programs are designed to fail (including) cuts in Civil Rights and Human Rights Departments.”
David Zander, a research analyst with the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, spoke of a diversity workforce for the future, and called for a plan for the future and to consider the aging workforce.
Shekleton added that Rep. Kahn is working on ways to train replacements for the aging workforce. He added that state agencies are also understaffed as people retire and the budget cuts do not allow replacements.
Shekleton referred people to www.recovery.mn for answers on federal stimulus funds used in road construction jobs, unemployment, and education.
There was discussion of State Contracts, both improving the number of minorities employed by contractors with state contracts and minority contractors eligible for bidding on state contracts. Attendees were asked to submit ideas on ensuring an educated and trained minority workforce.
Hector Garcia, executive director, State Chicano/Latino Affairs Council, said there is a need to collaborate and work on a comprehensive hiring plan. He spoke of a coalition of organizations already working on hiring of minorities include HIRE, Take Action, and Renew Minnesota.
In addition mutual assistance associations in communities of color with job training and hiring assistance programs are also working on advocacy issues.
A business owner who was present stated that assistance to small businesses and startups to succeed would do well for hiring minority workers in the private sector.
Some of the business mentoring programs include SCORE trainings and counseling by retired successful executives. Life Science Alley also provides training specific to businesses in the medical field. DEED has similar training for businesses looking to find trade outside of Minnesota.
There are other organizations and universities that provide education and training for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. Suggestions included DEED as a “one-stop-shop” for entrepreneurs, start-up small businesses, and business expansions.
Other panelists included Ashanti Payne, an MnDOT program supervisor; Lester Collins, executive director, and State Council on Council on Black Minnesotans.
Public input and recommendations can be submitted to Rep. Joe Mullery: [email protected].