Insights For Action

How the MSP Region is Addressing the Growing Talent Crisis with Analysis of Real-time Labor Market Data

In the last few years, a range of online analytical tools has enabled a clear view of our dynamic and constantly changing labor market. For the first time, this data is available to job counselors and planners not just as information for reflection, but as a real-time action tool to direct jobseekers to the best opportunities. This report outlines our approach to taking the first step in addressing this crisis: documenting the labor shortage and skills gap, identifying the impact that our programs and initiatives could have on closing those gaps, and building a strategy for a more systematic and employer-led long-term solution.

We believe workforce development must now be based on a real-time feedback loop. Without a clear line of sight into the current labor market realities, it is impossible to advise job-seekers effectively, meet employer talent needs, or plan effective educational systems. We have learned that in a program-rich, systems-poor environment, context in real dataand short-term outcomes can help move out of the spin-cycle of planning and into systems change.

However, a strong report alone will not lead to systematic change, better programs, or improved outcomes without engaging the necessary leaders to take the next step. Even after reviewing the wealth of LMI, job postings, and educational data at our disposal, it is still essential to get out in the field and talk to employers, training program managers, K-12 educators, and postsecondary directors get their take on the accuracy and relevancy of the data and your conclusions from it.  Only then can we identify solutions that ensure employers have the workers required to sustain and grow Minnesota’s economy.

Real Time Talent and MSPWin will continue to promote and expand demand-driven solutions that are grounded in the realities of talent supply limitations and opportunities. We hope that this implementation guide is an important step toward building the next generation of cross-sector, employer-led education and workforce collaboratives to address the workforce challenges of our time.

Click HERE to read the full report.

RTT Joins Center for Workforce Solutions

As a Program of the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, RealTime Talent Joins the Newly Created Center for Workforce Solutions

St. Paul, MN (05/08/18): The Minnesota Chamber yesterday announced the creation of the Center for Workforce Solutions, an innovative initiative under the leadership of the Chamber Foundation. Through collaboration and key partnerships, it offers research and programs to confront the state’s growing worker shortage and will help solve critical workforce challenges to sustain and grow Minnesota’s economy for the long term.
A key component of the Center for Workforce Solutions will be the work of RealTime Talent.  RealTime Talent seeks to increase workforce alignment throughout the state of Minnesota by bringing together education, workforce, economic development and private sector leaders.  RealTime Talent provides real-time labor market data to inform and affect market-oriented decisions made be these key stakeholders in Minnesota’s workforce and education system.  Recently, RealTime Talent published a series of reports detailing sector-specific occupations with high growth, middle skill, and livable wage opportunities.  These sector analyses have become critical data points used in workforce solutions conversation across the Twin Cities, and RealTime Talent is working to scale this work state-wide.
Along with RealTime Talent, the Center for Workforce Solutions will consist of three other solutions-focused components:

  •  MN Job Match is a job-to-candidate matching platform that helps employers find the right fit in qualified candidates. This platform’s unique capabilities matches modern skills with the changing needs in the marketplace, helps bridge the gap among job-seekers and employers, and identifies new opportunities.
  • Business Education Networks (BEN) seek to narrow the skills gap by helping students understand the career opportunities and complete necessary degree and certificate programs, thus helping employers find highly-skilled workers. BEN is already connecting businesses and local chambers with students, educators and workforce training programs in Winona, Brainerd, Waconia and White Bear Lake, with plans to accelerate networks throughout the state.
  • Educational opportunities bring together community and business leaders facing these challenges and offering solutions to ensure long-term economic success. The center offers resources and information that can expand employers’ knowledge base and offer new, innovative approaches to recruitment and retention. On May 9, the chamber will host the “Workforce Solutions Forum: Growing through Hidden Talent and Automation.” This half-day program will help employers tap the underutilized segments of our workforce and delve into how automation impacts all levels of production, and adapts how business is done to stay efficient with a shrinking workforce.

RealTime Talent is a public-private collaborative with a goal of increasing workforce alignment in Minnesota. We introduce tools and innovation to address labor force needs and support our higher education and workforce systems.  Our partners provide services to employers, job-seekers, planner and educators, using the tools and research we provide.  In January of 2018, RealTime Talent became a program of the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that shares in the mission of driving workforce solutions. For more information, contact Phil Arellano, RealTime Talent Training & Communication Specialist
651-201-1774 or email

Big Data Speaks Up for Soft Skills

Ask employers what they seek in new hires and “soft skills” rise to the top. Yes, it is a squishy buzz word but it covers a lot of what matters, including communication, teamwork, creativity and problem solving. For the new grads from our colleges, this is good news — they can show that they’ve got what today’s hiring managers want.

Don’t buy it? Start with the hard data. Sara Johnson, employer and alumni relations manager at Concordia College, has looked at full-time job postings from the last two years for new bachelor’s degree holders in our five-state area. Using TalentNeuron Recruit, a big-data tool that pulls together and analyzes job postings, Johnson’s search identified more than 390,000 postings in that period. She looked specifically at the skills required.

“When you look at the most listed skills, both hard and soft ones, almost all are soft skills,” she said. “These are really people skills. Employers are looking for a good quality candidate with problem solving abilities who can be creative, who can be analytical and who can take that information and articulate it.”

The top sought skill was oral and written communication. “That’s always number one. Looking at our data from job postings, we see demand for communications skills is two times more in demand than any other skill,” Johnson said. “It is about that ability to articulate ideas and information; it is extremely useful across all industries. If you dive in to what it means, it gets at expressing yourself in all sorts of ways.”

Ten of the top skills sought in new hires with bachelor’s degrees

# of postings that mentioned skill
Oral and written communications 148,238
Marketing 68,820
Detail-oriented 57,632
Problem solving 57,192
Integrity 43,938
Organizational skills 43,486
Creativity 40,049
Work independently 35,847
Self-starting / self-motivated 34,784
Team-oriented 33,721
Source: TalentNeuron Recruit

Data for period from May 31, 2015 to May 31, 2017 for full-time, entry-level positions for those with bachelor’s degrees in Minnesota and bordering states

Good news for grads

For college students who’ve been immersed in coursework and campus experiences and apprehensive about moving into the job market, this is a rare view into what employers are seeking. “For a student, they often don’t give themselves enough credit for those skill sets that they bring,” Johnson said. “So it is important to see the value of those skill sets — ones like integrity, working independently and working in a team.”

From Johnson’s perspective, students at Concordia College and Minnesota’s other private colleges have benefitted from educations focused on the liberal arts with opportunities for invaluable hands-on experiences, from internships to undergraduate research.

“The liberal arts colleges really have an advantage in helping students develop these high demand skill sets and preparing them for the workforce,” she said. “There’s always a transition — when you’re a new employee. These soft skills, they’re people skills and they give an advantage to liberal arts students, helping them be productive sooner. That’s a huge value to an employer, they’re a quick learner.”

And looking down the road, with the labor force expecting significant changes as more Baby Boomer retirements happen, the importance of these soft skills will only grow, Johnson predicts. With her analysis of the recent job postings for new college graduates, she also looked for where expectations are changing. The strongest increase was in management and leadership skills.

When employers hire new grads they worry about what soft skills are missing, as research has shown. Hiring managers were most concerned about a lack of critical thinking skills in recent grads. Next up was attention to detail and then communication. So as students apply for those first post-graduation positions, these data about the importance of soft skills can help them prepare. Johnson recommends students highlight these skills on their resumes and prepare to speak up during interviews about their experiences using these skills.

New graduates have what employers are seeking — now’s the time to be sure they let the decision makers know.

By John Manning

John Manning is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Minnesota Private Colleges Council, a partner of RealTime Talent.

Successes of 2017

RealTime Talent closed 2017 with a large and growing impact on Minnesota’s education-workforce ecosystem. Here are a few of the accomplishments from 2017 that we are proud of:

  • Created a movement to align talent development, workforce services and Minnesota’s labor market
    • RealTime Talent developed 21 career pathway guidance reports in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, Finance, and Business, Finance, & Administration for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Perkins Consortia, rolling new demand-oriented approaches to career decision making across Minnesota State and CTE secondary programs. Over 2,000 students in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources career pathways across Minnesota State, in secondary CTE tracks, and participating in Future Farmers of America received reports filled with data from TalentNeuron Recruit to be used in career planning; 80% of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources educators across Minnesota State received the same CTE reports to use in their classrooms and were connected with local, trained TalentNeuron Recruit users.
  • Established RTT as a recognized leader and resource for driving the use of real-time data analytics to align talent development and workforce services with Minnesota’s labor market
    • 98 organizations and institutions of higher education that work with students, job-seekers, or employers received access to TalentNeuron Recruit and training.
    • Between 345-415 people currently use TalentNeuron Recruit regularly in service to students, job-seekers, or employers.  Broader reach of potential license use is estimated at about 800-900 people.
    • Over 75 unique training sessions in the TalentNeuron Recruit data tool have been held this year to date, with over 240 people participating.
  • Ensured the daily decisions and services of education and workforce providers are guided by current data and comparative analysis
    • Working with Job Seekers
      • 100% of workforce centers and employment services providers that shared data with us in our recent survey said that they use TalentNeuron Recruit data directly with job-seekers in the past 6 months.
      • Between 1,385 and 2,015 job-seekers statewide received job search assistance that included data from TalentNeuron Recruit in the past 6 months.
    • Working with Students
      • In the past 6 months, about 715 students (10% of all students served by partners sharing their usage) directly received career or academic advice from TalentNeuron Recruit data over the past 6 months.
    • Research, Curriculum, Program, and Economic Development
      • 68% of partners using TalentNeuron Recruit for research and workforce analytics found that it led to greater knowledge of local or regional workforce needs over the past 6 months.
      • 57% of users that are involved in curriculum development said use of TNR “increased alignment of curriculum to employer needs” over the past 6 months.
  • Improved the results and longevity of sector-based collaborations in meeting employer demand by integrating RTT tools and outreach
    • Working with Job Seekers
      • A reported 356 job-seekers developed an improved understanding of how to express their skills, experience, and education as a result of advice based in data from TalentNeuron Recruit in the past 6 months.
    • Working with Students
      • A reported 605 students developed an improved understanding of how to express their skills, experience, and education as a result of advice based in data from TalentNeuron Recruit over the past 6 months.
      • 66% of users working directly with students said use of TalentNeuron Recruit “increased student awareness of opportunities” over the past 6 months.
      • 53% of users working directly with students said use of TNR “increased the frequency of use of labor market data with students” over the past 6 months.
    • Research, Curriculum, Program, and Economic Development
      • 80% of partners in economic development said use of new labor market data “increased knowledge of current workforce trends” over the past 6 months.
      • 50% of partners in economic development said use of new labor market data led to “increased total number of employers engaged” over the past 6 months.
      • 56% of partners in economic development said use of new labor market data led to “improved knowledge of hiring needs of employers” over the past 6 months.

New Year, New Location, Same Mission

The new year marks several exciting new beginnings for RealTime Talent.

We are pleased to announce that we completed our transition and are now operating as a public-private collaborative program within the Minnesota Chamber Foundation. We are thankful for the generosity and support of The Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations that we have called home for the first two years of RealTime Talent’s existence.  The Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations have provided a firm platform for our work to advance workforce alignment across Minnesota.  We look forward to continuing this important work with the MN Chamber Foundation, driving a statewide strategy to bring businesses, education providers, workforce planning, and economic development efforts together to better align education and training pathways to meet Minnesota’s workforce needs.

We also welcome our new Executive Director, Deb Broberg, to the RealTime Talent team.  Deb comes to RealTime Talent from a successful 25+ year career with Northwest Airlines and Wells Fargo where she held positions with responsibility for Inflight Operations, Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development, and Talent Management.  During her tenure with Wells Fargo she gained a keen appreciation for the importance of talent management and workforce planning.

Deb received her MA from the University of Minnesota’s HRIR program and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Macalester College.  She serves on the board of the Human Resources Executive Council and has had a longstanding interest in education and the critical need to plan for future market needs when considering options for post-secondary education and training.  Deb is active on the Alumni Board for Macalester College as co-chair of the career development committee, and served on the Carlson School of Management Undergraduate Advisory Board for nine years, where she gained insight on the early Itasca Project research which fueled her interest in workforce readiness for the state of Minnesota.

Deb brings a strong sense of community, commitment, and collaboration to RealTime Talent.  Deb is originally from Minnesota and spent her youth in multiple geographies as the daughter of a military family.

You can reach us at our new address at the MN Chamber is 400 Robert Street N, #1500, Saint Paul, MN 55101, or   We look forward to working with you in the new year and beyond!

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