The Minnesota Energy Consortium was formed in 2005 when a group of energy industry leaders and college partners from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities came together to analyze the projected worker shortages in the energy production fields. At the time of this convening, projections were for upwards of half of the current workforce would reach retirement eligibility in the coming 5-7 years.
The collaboration resulted in a successful application for a Department of Labor grant which provided for technical analysis of the existing and emerging energy sectors in Minnesota. From this study, the Energy Technical Specialist program was born. Technical training was designed to include a strong core skills area with specializations in Wind, Solar, Fossil Fuel, Bio-Fuels and Ethanol production. Later, the specialty in Nuclear generation was added.
Partnership has been a key tenet of the Energy Consortium from the beginning and continues today. Leaders from Xcel Energy, Allete (MnPower), Great River Energy, Ottertail Power Company, Minnesota Rural Electric Association, multiple rural electric cooperatives, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Minnesota Department of
Commerce, Minnesota Office of Energy Security and many independent company representatives have been key participants in guiding the work of the MEC.
The work of the Consortium continues to focus on 5 key areas:
1) Develop career awareness and plan outreach for career pathways. Specialty focus will include minorities, women and veterans.
2) Build a more formal sustainable structure and relationships with the workforce system, education system and industry within the consortium.
3) Ensure students are well prepared to enter the workplace.
4) Improve the extent and accuracy of energy workforce data for Minnesota.
5) Build relationship with contractors to broaden the effectiveness of workforce planning within the consortium.
The MEC serves as the industry advisory group for the Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence. The consortium meets at least twice annually. The MEC steering committee holds monthly conference calls to maintain communications and assure program progress