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For hire: Skilled workers in demand

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Minnesota is on the brink of a workforce shortage.

Roy E. Smith, director of education and talent development at the state Department of Iron Range and Rehabilitation, says that there was a push for four-year degrees while sweeping industrial arts programs out the door between the 1980s and the early 2000s. And that shift in economic focus, plus an aging working class moving into retirement and the exodus of many Iron Range families (in 1981, Smith had 400 students in his graduating high school class compared with the 120 students his daughter will join in getting her diploma in 2020) has put employers in a tough position of finding enough workers to maintain a rising economy.

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Mesabi Range College welding student David Kangas uses a grinder to clean a welding table at the Eveleth campus.

A welder working at Mesabi Range College builds a project.

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Welders cast shadows on the protective curtains at Mesabi Range College.


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