Partner Highlight: Talent Forecast Lays Groundwork for Regional Workforce Strategy

Elissa Hansen | (218) 481-7737 |

With a tight employment outlook and uncertainty over future trends plaguing so many employers, a group of stakeholders in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin came together this past year to seek a unified regional strategy. The result, the Talent Forecast, now gives the region this roadmap.

“Every day, we hear about how workforce challenges affect our businesses, and this strategy gives us a plan to move forward as a unified region,” said APEX Senior Business Developer Ian Vincent, who spearheaded the Talent Forecast. “and this is the first workforce analysis to do so at such a grand scale.”

APEX and eight funding partners selected the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) in partnership with the University of Northern Iowa’s Institute for Decision Making (IDM) to conduct a comprehensive assessment to better understand and help close the gap between available positions and a qualified workforce. The research lasted nine months and included interviews with over 400 individuals representing 110 organizations, as well as students and job seekers. The resulting implementation strategy identified three issues and challenges that are central to the region’s future success:

  • Industry demand for workers is driving the need for more talent than is currently available
  • The need to attract and retain vertically mobile, skilled talent to fill existing and future jobs
  • The potential to better leverage underutilized talent pools to meet workforce needs

The Talent Forecast builds in accountability by laying out clear goals, actions, and stakeholders responsible for addressing each of these challenges. NORTHFORCE plays a central role in several of the goals, most prominently in its efforts to attract and retain workers. While NORTHFORCE will continue with its core functions, it will also explore ways to use its data to better target jobseekers, broaden its reach, and support newcomers to the region through challenges beyond their job searches.

“NORTHFORCE is one of the few organizations that works across the entire region behind our workforce strategy,” said Vincent. “Their leadership is absolutely crucial to getting our regional businesses and workforce development stakeholders behind a single vision for talent attraction and retention and coming up with innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve.”

Partners in the Talent Strategy include APEX, the Blandin Foundation, Duluth Workforce Board, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, Minnesota Power, Northland Foundation, Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training, NORTHFORCE, and Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board. For more information on Talent Forecast and info on how to plug into your local workforce efforts, visit or contact Ian Vincent at 218-520-1019 or