NORTHFORCE: Quarterly Program Update

2024 Quarter 1

January marked the end of our Workforce Solutions Series which were held at Clyde Iron in Duluth, MN and attracted 70-80 participants at each session. This series focused on critical aspects of workforce development. Here’s a summary of each event: 

October 17: Session #1: State of the Workforce: Where are the Workers? 

This session delved into the current workforce shortages, with insights provided by Regional Labor Market Analyst Carson Gorecki. His presentation illuminated key issues at the heart of workforce challenges, both locally and nationally. The session also featured a panel discussion that explored various obstacles preventing people from entering the workforce. The discussions aimed to identify regional solutions, share best practices, and highlight valuable resources to address these challenges. 

November 7: Unlocking Talent: Innovative Approaches to Effective Recruitment 

Focused on enhancing recruitment efforts, this session brought together a panel of experts discussing innovative strategies to attract a diverse range of candidates. The event emphasized refreshing recruitment approaches, exploring new avenues for talent acquisition, and sharing actionable tips to improve organizational recruitment practices. 

 December 5: The Stay Factor: Crafting a Workplace that Keeps Employees 

This session addressed the importance of nurturing and utilizing local talent amidst a changing employment landscape. It included discussions with workforce development agencies, local experts, and employers who shared their experiences and strategies in training, upskilling, and retaining employees. The focus was on fostering a supportive environment for talent development and discussing how to effectively attract and keep employees. 

 January 10: What Does it Mean to be a Welcoming Workplace? 

The final session explored what it means to create a welcoming workplace that values and respects every employee. Presentations and a panel discussion, including insights from Carl Crawford, Human Rights Officer for the City of Duluth, provided guidance on creating inclusive and empowering work environments. The session also discussed adapting to changing employee expectations to foster a more collaborative and welcoming atmosphere. 

 Each session of the series served as a platform for learning and discussion, providing participants with practical knowledge and strategies to address workforce challenges effectively. 

2023 Quarter 4

In Spring 2023, NORTHFORCE received a grant from Age Friendly Minnesota to create a 43-page document titled Returnships: A Toolkit for Employers. Designed to help employers reach more pools of talent, the Toolkit contains information about creating a returnship program, ideas on how to identify positions that fit well for this type of work, and templates to customize for job descriptions, program handbooks, and feedback forms.  

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, returnships are similar to internships, except they are designed for people who have left the workplace for reasons like retirement or caregiving responsibilities. Integrating a returnship program helps businesses and organizations reach people who are interested in returning to the workforce, but might need additional training, a more flexible schedule, or just a little more time to adjust to working again after a break. 

If you are interested in learning more about Returnships: A Toolkit  for Employers, please reach out to Ali Bilden Camps, NORTHFORCE Program Manager at  The toolkit is a FREE resource, and we’d love to share it with you!