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Legislative Day at
By Rae Kruger
A part of the present and
future of Marshall’s workforce gathered around tables in the
Lyon County courthouse Friday afternoon. The attendees were part
of a presentation for state legislators to inform the them about
the adult basic education and the local workforce center, and
its partnership is helping new and long-time residents of the
region with skills needed to live and work in the region.
Those attendees were as young as 17, and as old as fathers and
mothers of grown children who recently came to America. All had
come to ABE and the local Private Industry Council/workforce
center presentation because they had a need to improve their
skills, they told the legislators.
“After 15 years of working in a
retail job, I found myself with a job elimination,” said Nancy
Johnson. “I still need to work. I have to have benefits. I’m
looking at getting into an office position.”
Johnson knew she needed to improve her computer skills.
She’s taking computer classes through ABE and is learning
Microsoft Word and Excell.
“When you look at job
opportunities, many of them ask about Excell,” Johnson said.
With computer training, she will be able to tell prospective
employers she knows Excell, Johnson said.
Tracy Veglahn of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce said
workforce issues are a priority for the chamber. Lyon
County’s unemployment rate was about 2.1 percent in October, a
recent available figure, Veglahn said. Programs offered
through ABE and PIC help to prepare students who are much needed
in today’s and the future workforce, Veglahn said.
Askandar Adam is a student at Southwest Minnesota State
University, but he was first a student in ABE.
“This program is very important to me,” Adam said.
He too needed to learn computer
skills which are critical to study at SMSU and to work.
Across the table from Johnson and Adam was Tory Puczkowski, 17,
of Tracy. Puczkowski has a child and a wife and needs a
“I dropped out of school and I needed a place to get a basic
education to support my family,” Puczkowski said.
Puczkowski has been taking GED classes for about four weeks.
“I love it,” he said. “You’re not thrown off with other kids
around you. It’s easier for me to do.”
A few students had only been in the U.S. for three weeks and
were only in their third day of class. Others like Kadija
Aden had passed the test to obtain U.S. citizenship. Aden
said she’s been in the U.S. for six years.
Pat Thomas, ABE coordinator, said the services ABE and the
workforce center provide help better prepare students for the
workforce and improve the skills of those already working.
Through PIC and ABE programs, students are supported with skills
services in a partnership that complements the goals of both
programs, said Mary Mulder of the PIC. There is also a big
return on every dollar invested, Mulder said.
For every $1 invested in the
food support employment and training program there is a return
of $11.51, Mulder said. For every $1 invested in the program
there is a return of $25.21, Mulder said.
Rod Briscoe, an official of the Schwan Food Co., said he uses
the program to help train sanitation workers about the chemicals
they use. ABE provides on-site training for employees with
limited English skills, Briscoe said.
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