A hunger for work: Dislocated workers try out culinary program

Posted October 28, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Academies, Red Wing

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Red Wing Republican Eagle

By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle

PHOTO: Cooking

Pariss Gary helps serve a meal that was prepared by students in a new culinary program.

They may not be ready for “Hell’s Kitchen,” but a group of laid-off workers might have a leg up on others vying for jobs in the food service industry.

Nine people on Tuesday received certificates from a four-week culinary training program at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical’s Red Wing campus.

Officials say the program will arm select unemployed workers with new skills as they re-evaluate the job market.

“It’s really a great opportunity,” said instructor Tom Skold, a chef at Pepin’s Harbor View Cafe. “Somebody here is going to start a whole new chapter of their life.”

As instructor, Skold introduces students to the basics of food service: handling knives, serving safe food and working in a fast-moving, cramped workspace.

In keeping with the basic instruction, Skold said students don’t have to brace for verbal assaults, popularized on television by chefs like Gordon Ramsay on “Hell’s Kitchen” – one of many shows Skold said has driven interest in culinary programs.

“People can see at least that depiction of what it might be like,” he said Tuesday after a meal cooked and served by the students for invitees at Mississippi National Golf Links.

Students said they welcomed the opportunity to retool.

“This is a total change from what I’m used to,” said Red Wing resident Pariss Gary, who said he had worked for years in the fast-food industry.

The Southeast Tech program launched last month as a partnership between the tech school and Workforce Development Inc.

Randy Long, Workforce Development’s scholarship coordinator, said the organization received federal economic stimulus funding in the spring. The money — about $400,000 in total – was earmarked for training of dislocated workers.

Workforce Development’s board of directors decided on a short-term culinary program. Board member Roy Harley said it’s a good fit for the local market and addresses a work force need.

“There wasn’t another program in this area like this,” Long said.

Southeast Tech was chosen to facilitate the program. Barb Breza, Southeast Tech’s director of continuing education and work force training, said she hopes the program eventually become self-sustaining.

Meanwhile, out-of-work students are receiving free instruction, courtesy of the grant. Breza said the program would otherwise cost up to $1,000, depending on class size.

The next program begins Nov. 9.


WDI on KAALtv – Local Program Helps with Unemployment

Posted October 16, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Interview, KAAL, Stimulus, Youth

Tags: , ,

Local Program Helps with Unemployment

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Minnesota’s unemployment level took a sharp drop from August, from 8% to 7.3%.

And one local program is one of the many contributing factors to that success.

“I wasn’t sure where I was heading before this program,” said enrollee Amanda Wondrow.

This program is Workforce Development Inc.’s Summer Employment Program.

“This gave us such a huge opportunity to meet the needs,” said Marge Kuethe, Youth Program Coordinator for Workforce Development Inc.

Born out of a 1.4-million-dollar sliver of the economic stimulus, it provided job training and opportunities to young adults and teenagers facing economic or other barriers.

“We were surprised at the number of youth that came to us,” said Kuethe.

In all, 600 people applied for the program.  That’s six times the normal summer load.

“At first I didn’t think much of the program.  It was kind of boring. I had class time. I’m not much of a class guy,” said Program Enrollee Allen McMahan.

When 22-year-old McMahan came to the program, he had been out of work for six months, scraping to get by for his girlfriend, their daughter, and another one on the way.

“When the program came around, it gave me a new door to walk through,” said McMahan.

That door led to a full-time gig at McNeilus Steel, and as of Thursday afternoon, a scholarship to go back to school.

“I honestly didn’t think I’d get the chance to go to college, and now I’ve got the scholarship, I’m enrolled, I’m back on track,” said McMahan.

And he’s not alone.

“This changed my life. I wasn’t sure when I’d be in school before this. I mean, I’d always wanted to, but I never had the chance,” said Wondrow.

Roughly 50% of the program participants have gone back to school, and there’s steady work for another 25%.

“I don’t know how to thank ’em enough,” said McMahan.

Workforce Development used roughly 75% of the money allocated to it from the stimulus.

They say they still have money left over to help people through the end of this year, but say they’ll be asking the legislature for more money to keep the program going.

Ten Interviewing Rules

Posted October 14, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Uncategorized

By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer


In the current job market, you’d better have your act together, or you won’t stand a chance against the com-petition. Check yourself on these 10 basic points before you go on that all-important interview.

Look Sharp

Before the interview, select your outfit. Depending on the industry and position, get out your best duds and check them over for spots and wrinkles. Even if the company has a casual environment, you don’t want to look like you slept in your clothes. Above all, dress for confidence. If you feel good, others will respond to you accordingly.

Be on Time

Never arrive late to an interview. Allow extra time to arrive early in the vicinity, allowing for factors like getting lost. Enter the building 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.

Do Your Research

Researching the company

before the interview and learning as much as possible about its services, products, customers and com-petition will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company’s needs. The more you know about the company and what it stands for, the better chance you have of selling yourself. You also should find out about the company’s culture to gain insight into your potential happiness on the job.

Be Prepared

Bring along a folder containing extra copies of your resume, a copy of your references and paper to take notes. You should also have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview. For extra assurance, print a copy of Monster’s handy interview take-along check-list.

Show Enthusiasm

A firm handshake and plenty of eye contact demonstrate confidence. Speak

distinctly in a confident voice, even though you may feel shaky.


One of the most neglected interviewing skills is listening. Make sure you are not only listening, but also reading between the lines. Sometimes what is not said is just as important as what is said.

Answer the Question Asked

Candidates often don’t think about whether they are actually answering the questions asked by their interviewers. Make sure you understand what is being asked, and get further clarification if you are unsure.

Give Specific Examples

One specific example of your background is worth 50 vague stories. Prepare your stories before the interview. Give examples that highlight your successes and uniqueness. Your past behavior can indicate your

future performance.

Ask Questions

Many interviewees don’t ask questions and miss the opportunity to find out valuable information. Your questions indicate your interest in the company or job.

Follow Up

Whether it’s through email or regular mail, the follow-up is one more chance to remind the inter-viewer of all the valuable traits you bring to the job and company. You don’t want to miss this last chance to market yourself.

It is important to appear confident and cool for the interview. One way to do that is to be prepared to the best of your ability. There is no way to predict what an interview holds, but by following these important rules you will feel less anxious and will be ready to positively present yourself.

Workforce Development, Inc. receives $95,000 Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development WIRED Grant

Posted September 21, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Press Release, Renewable Energy

Tags: , ,

September 21, 2009

Rochester, MN–The Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development (MNREM) recently awarded $800,000 to 12 area partnerships proposing innovative talent development and entrepreneurship solutions for the renewable energy industry in the 36-county MNREM region.  Workforce Development, Inc., which serves individuals in ten counties across Southeast Minnesota received a $95,000 grant to strengthen the Renewable Energy Skilled Worker Pipeline project through addition of safety training, adding an Industrial Maintenance skills training component, and providing On-the-Job-Training opportunities.

The WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative is a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, to foster new partnerships and ways of delivering education and training to enhance the region’s talent development system.

“Minnesota has always been a leader in renewable energy innovation,” said Mark Willers, MNREM board chair. “Our first round of MNREM-WIRED funded projects is already starting to show exciting growth and outcomes for developing talent in the renewable energy industry. With these MNREM investments, we make it possible for our renewable industries and our state to grow and adapt more quickly to our changing world.”

This is the second set of awards through the Renewable Energy Marketplace to support talent development, entrepreneurship and business growth, and regional leadership and identity. The projects funded through these awards represent a step toward building the strong and proactive talent development system that the renewable energy industry needs to stay competitive.

Below is a partnership of the projects funded in this round – for more information on these and previous projects, go to www.mnrem.org

The awards support industry-led partnerships that will transform key elements of the talent in the region.

  • $80,000 to Keoh Properties/CURE (Montevideo) to provide training to students and contractors to construct an energy-efficient, low-income home (in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other partners)
  • $80,000 to Green Lyfe, LLC/Ridgewater College (Willmar), and other partners, for training/education of students, existing workforce, and general public in renewable/sustainable technologies through construction of LEED-certified home
  • $61,000 to Dotson Castings/MN State University, Mankato, and other partners, to facilitate the development of new renewable energy entrepreneurs/ventures in Southern Minnesota by bringing together entrepreneurship teams
  • $76,500 to Ottertail Ag Ethanol/MN State Community & Technical College-Moorhead, and other partners,  to provide alternative and renewable energy based, hands on educational programs to students in grades 8-12
  • $60,000 to BioFuell Energy, So MN Beet Sugar Coop, MN Soybean Processors/MTM Performance Solutions (Willmar), and other partners,  to provide supervisory leadership training for current and emerging supervisors
  • $95,000 to various residential building contractors/Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council (New York Mills), and other partners,  to train weatherization auditors/contractors to do solar site analyses/ solar air heating installations
  • To Outland Energy/MN West Community & Technical College, (Canby) and other partners,
  • $45,500 for GearTech training (Gear Failure Analysis);
  • $14,500 for Gravitec “Train the Trainer” fall protection and rescue training
  • $44,000 to provide hands-on training to present and future wind technician employees and wind energy students
  • $85,000 to SMAFE (So MN Assoc. of Food & Ethanol employers)/Ideation Consulting (New Ulm),  and other partners, to provide customized industry-specific training for Leadership Development
  • $78,000 to POET, MN Soybean Processors/Windom Education & Collaborative Center (WECC), and other partners, to enhance the workforce skills of new and existing employees in the biofuels industry through a variety of hands-on training, technology classes and internships
  • $95,000 to SoyMor Biodiesel/Workforce Development, Inc. (Albert Lea), and other partners, to strengthen the Renewable Energy Skilled Worker Pipeline project through addition of safety training, adding an Industrial Maintenance skills training component, and providing OJT opportunities across Southern MN


WIRED is a federal initiative designed to energize the nation’s economy through regional economic development partnerships and workforce education and training. The Renewable Energy Marketplace of southern and western Minnesota is one of 39 areas across the United States participating in the WIRED initiative.

To find out more about MNREM-WIRED, and to learn more about these and the earlier funded projects, please visit the MNREM website at www.mnrem.org

For details on the national WIRED program, visit www.doleta.gov.

Practice Makes Perfect: How to Rehearse for Your Next Job Interview

Posted September 21, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

Taken from Yahoo hot jobs

by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

There are a lot of steps that usually happen before you get to the interview portion of your job search: resume, networking, references. Most folks are able to put a lot of effort into getting the interview, but many fall apart during the actual interview. Why? Poor planning and a lack of practice.

Instead of winging it, or relying solely on your professional skill set, you should stage a rehearsal for your next job interview.

Not sure how to go about it? Start by enlisting a family member, friend, or partner to play the role of interviewer, and ask that she stay in character from start to finish. Set up a space, such as a desk or table, where you can create a suitable setting. Then use these 10 tips to from corporate trainer Marlene Caroselli to make your interviews — both mock and real — successful.

1. Do your homework. “Learn all you can about the organization in advance,” advises Caroselli. Share this information with your mock interviewer, perhaps in the form of crib notes. She can use this to grill you.

2. Tune in. “Watch people being interviewed on television and make note of what works,” she advises. Look for traits that make people likable and competent.

3. State the unobvious. “Create one really intriguing statement about yourself. For example, a woman I know, expecting to be told, ‘Tell us a bit about yourself (THE most popular interview question),’ replied, ‘I think I should tell you I’m a non-conforming conformist.’ She explained what she meant and wound up getting the job!”

4. Think outside the box. A little visualization can go a long way, according to Caroselli, author of “Principled Persuasion.” “Think about a visual that really represents what you can do. It can be a photo taken at an event you organized, for example. If you have nothing that symbolizes your capabilities, then look for a pattern not readily apparent in your resume and be prepared to talk about that particular interest or talent, apart from your official work history.”

5. Know your lines. Actors do it, and you should, too. “Memorize a few short quotes and have them ready. They’ll help you respond articulately to virtually any question.”

6. Sum it up. The very first request an interviewer may make is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” In order to answer quickly and succinctly, she urges interviewees, “Have an elevator speech ready in case they want a brief overview of your career.”

7. Be tough on yourself. Research tricky interview questions and provide them to your helper. Also, point out gaps in your skills or holes in your resume and instruct her to grill you on those points. “By comparison, your own, actual interview will seem like a walk in the park, and that prospect will encourage you,” reveals Caroselli.

8. Capture it on camera. “If possible, have someone video you doing an interview-rehearsal. Then study your body language to see if it reveals confidence, poise, and enthusiasm,” she counsels.

9. Listen up. Close your eyes and listen back to the recording of your replies to interview questions. “Play the tape back and analyze your responses. Ask yourself, ‘Would you hire you?'”

10. Stay calm. Work on being relaxed before your big meeting. Caroselli advises candidates, “When you get to the interview site and are waiting to be called in to the interview room, work on a brainteaser. Research shows it calms the nerves and takes your mind off the challenge ahead.”

2009 Best Places to Work in Southeast MN

Posted September 14, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Best Places to Work, Press Release

Tags: ,

Best Places to Work

Position Your Organization as a

Best Place to Work in Southeast Minnesota

Workforce Development, Inc is once again ready to identify the Best Places To Work in Southeast Minnesota.  “Even in this tough economy, there are some great employers in our communities.  We want to recognize our best employers and provide valuable data to help all of our employers recognize what they do well and where they have room for improvement”, said Jakki Trihey, Workforce Development, Inc.

The Best Places To Work is a national program that recognizes the best employers in local communities.  Workforce Development, Inc. wants to survey companies within Freeborn, Mower, Rice, Steele, Goodhue, Olmstead, Houston, Dodge, Fillmore and Wabasha Counties to identify the Best Places To Work in Southeast Minnesota.  This is the second year in a row that Workforce Development, Inc. has sponsored this program for Southeast Minnesota.

Workforce Development, Inc. will be recognizing employers in two size categories:

– Companies with 100 employees or less

– Companies with more than 100

Each local organization participating in the Best Places To Work survey will be asked to complete a 40 question, online survey.  Personnel Dynamics Consulting Group, of Florida will collect the information, analyze the data, and provide the results.  Every organization participating in the survey will receive a confidential report detailing the results of the survey and identifying what employers are offering in the areas of benefits, training and development, paid time off, performance management programs, growth, advancement and many more.  The survey reports on information all business leaders should know.  The report is free for every Company that participates in the survey.

The application deadline for the Best Places To Work is October 31st.  Those wishing to participate may go directly to www.personneldynamics.net/survey.asp, access the link through our website at http://www.workforcedevelopmentinc.org/NewsAndEvents/ or contact  Jakki Trihey, Workforce Development Inc. at 507-529-2701.  Contact us today to find out if you are the Best Employer in Southeast Minnesota!

2nd Annual National Suit Drive

Posted September 1, 2009 by workforcedevelopmentinc
Categories: Press Release


Concerned that thousands of men are unable to secure employment because they lack the initial, yet vital, step of looking presentable for a job interview, Workforce Development, Inc. and Men’s Wearhouse are working together to collect thousands of articles of professional attire as part of the 2nd Annual National Suit Drive, September 1-30.

Workforce Development, Inc., along with more than 200 other nonprofit organizations, have partnered with Men’s Wearhouse, the nation’s leading retailer of men’s tailored clothing, to help empower unemployed men by providing the necessary work attire that will build their self-esteem and help make a lasting impression during job interviews.

“We are very excited to work with Men’s Wearhouse on the National Suit Drive campaign,” said Jennifer Johnson, Career Counselor with Workforce Development, Inc. in Rochester MN. “Having the right professional attire can make a difference in our clients’ reaching their goal of finding a new career. The donations received from the drive will help men walk into the interview with the extra confidence needed to move forward in the current job market.”

Last year, the inaugural suit drive garnered 125,000 professional items nationally.  This year, Workforce Development, Inc. and Men’s Wearhouse have set a goal of not only gathering as many items as possible, but also increasing awareness about the importance clothing has on clients’ success as they work to overcome barriers to gainful employment.

“It became apparent many years ago that there was a long-standing need to help men who are striving for self-sufficiency,” said George Zimmer, CEO and Chairman of Men’s Wearhouse.  “We started a Merchandise Donation program to provide professional clothing to nonprofit organizations serving these men.  However, our program could not meet the demand, so we implemented the National Suit Drive to assist us in our efforts to help less fortunate men by giving them a renewed sense of dignity and respect.  Philanthropy is a major part of our corporate fabric and given the economic climate, this year’s National Suit Drive is more important than ever.”

To demonstrate its commitment, Men’s Wearhouse will add a new tie to help complete the outfit for every suit donated.

All 1,065 Men’s Wearhouse and Men’s Wearhouse & Tux locations will serve as drop-off sites for gently used suits, dress shirts, sport coats, slacks, ties, belts and shoes that will be used to benefit men in need of these items to transition into the workforce.  Men’s Wearhouse will accept donations for Workforce Development, Inc., which in turn will provide them to individuals who utilize their services.  For a complete list of drop-off locations, please visit www.nationalsuitdrive.com.