A solution to many GSDC investors’ workforce challenges, even if only for a few months, may have arrived with the conclusion of the school year. Perhaps you have positions that are perfect for a summertime hire. During a recent GSDC Workforce Executive Roundtable discussion, local DEED labor market analyst, Luke Greiner, shared some encouraging statistics regarding increased employment of our youth. Those follow, as do tips for recruiting teens.

Data is from the Federal Reserve Analysis of the Current Population Survey data measuring labor force participation rate.

  • Teenagers are participating in the labor force at rates not seen in decades.
  • Most recently, the labor force participation rate was 34.5% for 16–19-year-olds compared to 31.7% in April 2019. The rate for young 20-year-olds decreased slightly from pre-pandemic, but it has since rebounded and increased. Youth employment rates have been as high as 44% in mid-2021.
  • Service occupations have been incredibly difficult to fill, and the higher wages are likely drawing interest from our youngest workers. These occupations are also seeing real wage growth.

Offering job opportunities, internships or shadowing opportunities are ways to increase your workforce pipeline and connection to our young workforce.

Tips for Employers Recruiting Teens 

  • Include only required qualifications in your job postings. If the organization is open to hiring youth with little to no work experience, the job description should reflect that opportunity. Be sure to state any minimum age requirements up front.
  • Youth value diversity, equity, and inclusion more than ever. If your organization is committed to offering an inclusive workplace, tell why you value their unique contributions or highlight how you are creating an inclusive workplace.
  • Clearly post job offerings on your website, featuring an easy-to-use online job application. Post jobs on websites like Jobs posted on show up on GreaterStCloudJobSpot and connect directly to the organization’s application process.
  • Consider offering paper applications or an online application kiosk at your place of employment so young people stopping by your business can apply on the spot.
  • Work with your local high schools to share your job opportunities for students. Many students seek part time work during high school or go directly into the workforce upon graduation. Contact Gail Cruikshank to help you connect to a local school.
  • Respond to all applications in a timely manner but provide additional attention to youth applicants. For example, if they are too young to work at your business, let them know at what age they can apply. Individuals will tell others their experience during the application process, make sure they are spreading positive comments.
  • Ask your youth workforce to spread the word about job openings and consider offering
    a referral bonus.
  • Do you know a youth who is looking for employment? GreaterStCloudJobspot highlights regional job opportunities and provides a variety of job prep tools to help youth land a new job.


Consider long-term benefits of robust teen employment efforts 

Youth workers can be extremely reliable, flexible workers who are quick to learn new skills. Hiring youth in the summer is an opportunity to build an organization’s workforce pipeline industry and help you establish relationships that may further your business in the future.

To learn how you can connect and engage with local schools or for more information about participating in Exploring Potential Interests and Careers (EPIC), contact GSDC Talent Director, Gail Cruikshank.


Careers in the construction industry are on the rise but due to regulations, there remain multiple challenges to enter this career field. The GSDC continues to support area construction employers and community partners to explore opportunities to increase applicant flow for this growing industry. 

An example of an organization increasing access to this industry is Summit Academy, a post-secondary accredited school that offers 20-week programs focused on Construction, Healthcare and IT.

A group of Central Minnesota business leaders and contractors visited Summit Academy in North Minneapolis in May to learn more.

Representatives from K Johnson Construction, W. Gohman Construction, Rice Builders, Bradbury Stamm, Simonson Lumber, Career Solutions, and CMBA were led by Sen. Aric Putnam and Gail Cruikshank from the GSDC.  

The construction program is split into two 10-week sessions and taught by experienced instructors, many of whom are retired from the industry. The first 10-week session focuses on the soft skills needed in construction and the second session focuses on hands-on training. Students learn how to operate hand and power tools along with handling construction materials. They build mock-ups of typical construction detail: floor, wall and roof framing, shingling, etc.

The footprint of the mockup is about 20’ x 20’ and when finished, the mock-up is completely dismantled and becomes ready for the next group to build. After the completion of the 20-week program, eligible students are typically offered positions with construction companies with help from Summit Academy staff.  

There is no cost for the students to attend and many are given a stipend to do so. The school has three sources of funding: private partnerships with local businesses, fundraising and public funding.  

The St. Cloud area group that visited Summit Academy enjoyed viewing this established educational model building that helps develop knowledgeable employees for the construction industry. The GSDC continues to explore opportunities to forward this work for the Central MN region.

Article provided by Kevin Johnson, K Johnson Construction


Childcare continues to be a challenge in Central Minnesota, as working parents and employers know all too well. Over 4,400 kids in the region need childcare and 24% of parents surveyed have withdrawn from the workforce or declined employment due to a lack of childcare arrangements.

The GSDC is proud to partner with United Way of Central Minnesota to bring leaders together to address this community need. United Way’s Greater St. Cloud Child Care Fund is a great resource.

To learn more, contact Gail Cruikshank at GSDC or Alexis Lutgen at United Way of Central Minnesota.

Also click here to see DEED’s suggestions for addressing childcare challenges.


Gail Cruikshank, GSDC Talent Director, was among the members of the St. Cloud State University Career Center’s Employer Advisory Council recently invited to spend a day on campus debriefing the collaborations of the past year and pathways to increase connections and success for students and local employers.

The Advisory Council is committed to supporting the Career Center’s role to provide career exploration assistance, internship and employment resources to students and alumni, create partnerships to support students in their career transitions, and promote life-long career engagement.

The Career Center staff appreciate the support of employer partners, and the valuable opportunities that organizations like the GSDC make available to the students of SCSU. 

Employers were able to tour areas of distinction across campus to see the innovative experiences taking place through spaces such as the Visualization, Nursing Simulation and Business Labs. Following the tours, employers were invited to attend poster sessions showcasing undergraduate and graduate level research, creative works, and scholarship across all disciplines at the Huskies Showcase event. 

“The feedback from our employers was unanimously positive.  Many of the Employer Advisory Council members are SCSU alumni, so to get them back on campus again to see the direct impact we are making in our spaces to prepare our students for life after SCSU was truly a highlight”, remarked Michelle Schmitz, executive director of the Career Center. “Our goal moving forward is to continue to showcase at least one space or department on campus at each future meeting.” 

Article provided by Michelle Schmitz, SCSU


GSDC investor Greenline Marketing skillfully manages and coordinates our St. Cloud Shines brand,  interviewing community members, writing and publishing stories, designing a monthly newsletter, creating an expansive community resource and more.

Last fall, Greenline Marketing created ‘A Drive Through Central Minnesota’ video, in collaboration with Switchboard, to highlight our region and what it has to offer. For its excellent work on the video, Greenline was recently awarded a Gold American Advertising Award. Congratulations!




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Contact Our Staff Team

Patti Gartland, President | 320-260-2442

Leslie Dingmann, Business Development Director | 320-493-9003

Gail Cruikshank, Talent Director | 320-260-6775

Amelia Barkley, Communications & Program Specialist | 320-292-9296