How the Fergus Falls Healthcare Industry is Fostering Tomorrow's Workforce

As baby boomers begin to retire, a new generation of workers is set to take their place. What many companies are now realizing is that the incoming workforce is much different than in the past. The future workforce is “comprised of entrepreneurial digital natives who want to gain a sense of meaning from their work.” Millennials and gen Z grew up in the age of technology and have a profoundly different outlook than previous generations. Their unique skills, interests, and viewpoints require companies to think outside the box with how they attract and engage with the future workforce — a sentiment echoed by many. Findings by PwC suggest, “Companies that understand and act on these workforce changes now will not only have the skills but also the organizational motivation, innovation, and adaptability to thrive.”

Industry leaders are in a unique position to get creative with how they interact with the future workforce. Employers are starting to realize the importance of connecting with potential workers early on, and in many cases, while they’re still in school. While internships and co-ops aren’t a novel concept, there has always been room for improvement. Today, companies are taking these opportunities to the next level with programs designed to help students get on-the-job-training as early as high school. In some instances, they may even receive a scholarship for their post-secondary education in exchange for working for a company.

Greater Fergus Falls recognizes the need to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The incoming workforce is composed of individuals with adaptable skills; it’s our job to help them hone their skills and develop their work ethic. With that in mind, we wanted to highlight three industries in Minnesota taking strides to foster tomorrow’s workforce: healthcare, construction, and welding. This three-part blog series will explore the innovative way these industries are shaping future employees at a local level. In light of the pandemic and an ever-rising need for healthcare workers, we thought most appropriate to start with the healthcare industry.

Healthcare is the Most In-Demand Occupation in Minnesota

Healthcare is one of the largest and most in-demand industries in Minnesota. According to DEED, a position as a Registered Nurse ranks #1 as the most sought-after occupation statewide. In Otter Tail County, the healthcare industry makes up 20.4% of the labor force with 5,037 jobs. In Fergus Falls, that number increases to 26.5% of the labor force and accounts for 1,502 jobs.

While healthcare is a vital industry in Fergus Falls and all of Otter Tail County, it’s not exempt from the ongoing workforce shortage. In 2019, the healthcare industry accounted for 25% of the total job vacancies in Otter Tail County — the highest in the region. So, it’s safe to say that the need for qualified healthcare workers was high even before the pandemic struck. However, it was one that the industry had already begun taking steps to correct before COVID-19.

Many companies, from big-name hospitals like Sanford to smaller care facilities, have begun implementing programs that allow them to connect with and train potential future employees. These programs are crucial to build on and enhance the skills students already possess. Investing in training opportunities helps employers cultivate a strong work ethic and develop future leaders. By creating connections with students still in school, employers can get them excited about their career path and keep them engaged throughout their post-secondary education.

LB Homes Offers Students Hands-On Training Opportunities

LB Homes, a senior care facility in Fergus Falls, also recognized the need to connect early on with local students. The facility has successfully implemented its Nursing Assistant Training Program, which provides on-site training, mentorship, and professional development to those interested in pursuing a nursing career. Adults, as well as high school and college students, are welcome to apply for the program.