Category Archives: Morning Blend Interviews

Blue Line Extension

What are the issues around the proposed extension of the Hiawatha “Blue Line” LRT?

Assignment: Do a report / interview on this impending transit development.

 

) A rail transit line through north Minneapolis is in the works. The METRO Blue Line extension would connect Downtown with Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. You can learn all about this project at an upcoming open house in Minneapolis.

METRO Blue Line extension open house
5-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29
Harrison Community Center, 503 Irving Ave. N.

Plans for up to 11 new stations are in the works. Two are planned in Minneapolis along Olson Memorial Highway at Van White Boulevard and at Penn Avenue. The Metropolitan Council is also considering two additional stops near Theodore Wirth Parkway that would serve Golden Valley and Minneapolis: one at Golden Valley Road and the other on Plymouth Avenue. A decision on whether to construct one or both of these stations is expected later this year.

Anyone who needs assistance to take part in the open house should contact the project’s community outreach coordinator David Davies at david.davies@metrotransit.org or 612-373-5336. All requests for special assistance should be made by Oct. 22.

For more information on the project, go to www.bluelineext.org.

Making the Best Use of Immigrant Talent & Experience

The organization Civic Caucus recently interviewed Rebecca Tancredi, managing director of Upwardly Global, Chicago, IL, an immigrant-assistance firm.
Upwardly Global estimates that the talent pool of highly skilled, educated new Americans is more than 1.8 million.

Assignment: Using the Civic Caucus conversation with Ms. Tancredi as a starting point, schedule some interviews to address the question – is Minnesota doing enough to draw talented immigrants and to connect them with job opportunities.

And if there is a disconnect between the education of the American-born workforce and the skills needed for 21st century jobs, why?

Below is the rest of the message from Civic Caucus regarding the conversation with Rebecca Tancredi:

Talented immigrants need help in preparing resumes’ and preparing for interviews to avoid misunderstandings, Tancredi says. Moreover, immigrants often face ill-considered limits on qualifications to take professional licensing exams, she says.

 

The United States could be more purposeful, as is Canada, in bringing in people with skills the nation needs, according to Tancredi.

 

Biography.

Rebecca Tancredi is managing director for Upwardly Global for the Midwest.  Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and help them to integrate into the professional workplace.  In this role Tancredi works with employers across the Midwest to help them connect to diverse, highly skilled immigrants, refugees and asylees who come to the U.S. with extensive professional backgrounds and full work-authorization.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are over 1.8

million skilled immigrants who are un- or underemployed in the U.S.  When regions can better capitalize on this talent pool, they can solve some of their current and upcoming workforce shortages.

million

 

By teaching new Americans how to conduct a successful U.S. job search, Upwardly Global has helped thousands of immigrants move from low-skilled work to professional positions with family sustaining wages.  Prior to Upwardly Global, Rebecca worked in corporate HR and was responsible for staffing and innovative talent development programs.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Ohio State University.


Background.
Today’s interview is a followup to two Civic Caucus statements on human capital: one in September 2014 laying out the human-capital challenges facing the state today and in coming years and a follow-up paper in January 2015

offering recommendations for maintaining a high-quality workforce in Minnesota.

 

 

Discussion.

 

Skilled immigrants can play a role in helping with shortages in the workforce. Rebecca Tancredi of Upwardly Global for the Midwest said her organization’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers faced by skilled immigrants and refugees and to help them integrate into the U.S. workforce. “We’ve had great success in moving skilled immigrants from unemployment or low-skilled jobs into professional positions, often in the highest-demand sectors of our economy,” she said.

 

Minnesota has a great deal of opportunity because of its significant skilled- immigrant population. Upwardly Global has just started a pilot project of working with immigrants in the Twin Cities. Tancredi said the organization is currently exploring funding partners in the area. “We’re really interested in Minnesota and think we could play a strong role there,” she said.

 

The employment barriers skilled immigrants face are very solvable. A lot of the problem, Tancredi said, is immigrants’ lack of understanding of how to do a professional job search. Immigrants would send resumes with the wrong type of information or, if they had an interview, would do things in the interview that are culturally normal in their home country, but not in the U.S.

 

Tancredi said Upwardly Global does two things:

 

  • It works on the job seekers’ side, helping them with their resumes, coaching them to talk about their achievements during an interview, to give a firm handshake, and to make direct eye contact.

 

  • It also works with employers, who are very interested in the immigrant talent pool. But they often make mistakes, as well, Tancredi said. They may make the assumption that an immigrant needs sponsorship, which is expensive and time-consuming. But, in fact, all the immigrants Upwardly Global works with are already fully and permanently work authorized. Employers can become more sensitive to cultural issues and can learn to probe to get to the real issue-whether the immigrant has the skills to do the job.

 

This year, Upwardly Global will place about 640 immigrants in professional jobs and raise their family income by an average of $38,000 per placement. “It really changes the economic stability of the family,” Tancredi said. She pointed out that over 50 percent of Upwardly Global’s placements nationally are in positions employers report as the most difficult to fill. And Upwardly Global’s employer partners report increased diversity in their workforce and the ability to work in global markets as key advantages of hiring immigrants, she said.

 

 

Upwardly Global alumni maintain a retention rate of over 90 percent after one year of employment. She said the alumni tend to be very loyal to the business that helped them break the employment barrier. The retention rate also reflects the ability of immigrants to adapt to the American workforce, she said.

 

It’s estimated that the size of the talent pool of highly skilled, educated “new Americans” is more than 1.8 million. Tancredi said immigrants, refugees and asylees have arrived in the U.S. ready to work, but can’t find good jobs in their area of expertise. They are unemployed or underemployed in semi-skilled or unskilled job positions making poverty-level wages, she said. In Illinois, she said, the number is around 300,000.

 

Nationally, Upwardly Global has served 1,250 people this year and will serve 1,500 next year. “There’s a huge population and clearly, we’re not serving everyone,” she said.

 

In Minnesota, the trend is toward increasing numbers of immigrants. The percentage of foreign-born individuals in Minnesota, Tancredi said, rose from 7.2 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2012. Migration into the state will help sustain Minnesota’s population, she said, since its natural population growth will decline until 2050. According to Minnesota State Demographic Center projections, she said, the state needs an additional 83,100 net new in-migrants between 2016 and 2020 to maintain its present labor force growth of five percent.

 

Immigration helps offset the decline of younger age groups. New immigrants are disproportionately in their early working years, Tancredi said. The largest age category of new immigrants in 2012 was the 25-to-34 year-old group. “We see that in the people we work with at Upwardly Global,” she said. “Often they are young people trying to take advantage of winning a green card in the diversity lottery. That’s definitely true of the immigrants we have worked with in Minnesota.”

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually. Visa winners are drawn in a random selection among all entries from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. Most lottery winners reside outside the U.S. and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa.

The refugee population is another significant group in Minnesota. When employers think of refugees, they usually don’t think a refugee might be an engineer they could hire, Tancredi said. The U.S. policy with refugees, she said, is to try to make them independent as quickly as possible. This often results in them taking jobs below their skill level.

 

As immigrants make up a greater percentage of the workforce, she said, cities and states that capitalize on the pool of skilled immigrants will have an advantage economically. And that will help shift perceptions on immigration from a problem to a source of economic advantage, Tancredi said. “Shifting those perceptions can bring greater opportunities for smart immigration policy that is designed to help the U.S. address workforce issues strategically,” she said.

 

City and State workforce agencies should specify the ways they would like immigrants considered in their state plans, and recognize foreign-educated workers who are unemployed or underemployed as dislocated workers eligible for use of funding issued via the reauthorized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

 

Employers say workforce-training programs are not producing workers with the skills they need. Tancredi said employers feel many training programs are not preparing people for the jobs most in demand or not preparing them adequately. “It could be that some employers have unrealistic expectations,” she said. An internship path is a great way to get past this barrier, she said, since hiring managers want to hire someone who hits the ground running. It’s not usually what they get, so employers must do some training on the job.

 

Internships can provide an opportunity for skilled immigrants to close any gaps between what they know and any new skills they might need on the job. Tancredi said her organization has an internship partnership with a group in Boise, Idaho. One of the main drivers for the Boise initiative, she said, was that the city and state were losing out on companies locating there because the population is not diverse. “They are intentionally trying to diversify their talent base to attract those companies,” she said.

 

The Boise group has funded 250 internships and Upwardly Global is one supplier of candidates for those internships, which Tancredi said are helpful to their clients. For example, a number of Upwardly Global clients might be great with technology and have computer science backgrounds, she said, but the technology they’ve been using in their home countries could be behind what’s used in the U.S. Internships provide the immigrants the learning experience to close any such gaps.

 

Policy can influence this workforce issue and help different states and employers access the talent pool of skilled immigrants. As an example, Tancredi pointed out that every state has a different approach to licensing engineers. Civil engineers must be licensed as professional engineers before to secure jobs at the level of previous positions. . People who graduate from a U.S. engineering school can take the initial fundamentals of engineering licensing test immediately after graduation which is step one in the process. In Michigan, engineering graduates from foreign schools can also take the licensing test immediately.

 

That’s not true in Illinois, she said. Engineering graduates must work for four years under a licensed engineer before they can take the licensing test. Because of this requirement, she said, Upwardly Global clients in Illinois will take the test in Michigan and, if they pass, put it on their resume. “Michigan is being very smart about this issue,” she said. “They are funding us to attract engineers and to get them to move to Michigan. And that is happening.”

 

While Upwardly Global’s ultimate goal for each client is a long-term job position, the organization sometimes uses short-term contract jobs to give clients U.S. work experience.

 

More than half of Upwardly Global’s immigrant clients have skills in job areas that are the hardest for U.S. employers to fill. Tancredi said the organization’s four largest placement areas are in engineering, technology, finance and accounting, and health care.

 

Part of Upwardly Global’s program is teaching immigrants about the American business style. “Workers from other parts of the world see Americans as very self promoting, very achievement oriented, very goal directed and very confident,” Tancredi said. “We value numbers and want to quantify things and value extraversion and assertiveness. These are cultural differences.” Because Upwardly Global clients from certain countries might be hesitant to speak up, she said, the organization teaches people how to be heard in a meeting, how to assert oneself and how to recognize social cues.

 

“While Upwardly Global is mostly about teaching job search skills,” she said, “we are completely available to immigrants after they’re placed in a job.”

Examining the “Grocery Gap”

Blue Cross / Blue Shield is pitching a story to KFAI regarding the “Grocery Gap”

Assignment:  Do a Morning Blend interview or a produced field piece about statewide efforts to address this problem.  Is this one area where residents of rural Minnesota and low-income inner city residents might find common purpose?

Press release below:

Minnesotans say the state’s “grocery gap” is a barrier to healthy eating, according to a new poll commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Center announced the latest findings from its state-wide poll that show a majority of those polled say not all Minnesotans have access to healthy food and stores that offer healthy choices is an obstacle for many.

Would you be interested in a story about the poll findings showing how our surroundings – the places where, we live, work and play – impact our access to healthy food? And, to set up a time to talk with the head of the Center or one of the community groups involved in healthy solutions throughout the state?

Some interesting findings include:

  • A “grocery gap” is felt by many Minnesotans, with nearly half (49 percent) reporting that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat. Most Minnesotans (73 percent) also say difficulty finding healthy food on-the-go influences their decisions.

The results of the poll underscore how much a person’s surroundings can influence the choices they make and ultimately impact their health. I’ve included the news release in this email (see below).

To illustrate the state’s “grocery gap,” we have included a link to the infographic and fact sheet.

Please let me know your thoughts and I’ll put you in touch with the head of the Center or one of the community groups involved in healthy solutions in your area.

 

Media Contacts

Katie Priebe
715-571-6428

Christian Knights
651-662-4058 (office)
christian.knights@bluecrossmn.com

Tracy Carlson
612-455-1717 (work)
612-232-6578 (cell)
tracy.carlson@padillacrt.com

Waiting for Take-Off

Assignment:  Do an interview on this research regarding immigrant communities and their  work at the MSP airport.

Waiting for Take-Off is a report from Center for Popular Democracy about Poverty Wages facing the East African Communities in Minnesota, and how the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, the largest employer of these communities, could make a positive impact on these numbers by raising wages for workers.

Transit Times Tell A Tale

Assigment:  Attend this press conference on Tuesday, May 12 and file a report for the Morning Blend.  OR schedule one or more interviews with stakeholders to give KFAI’s listeners an understanding of the meaning of this report.

Report Release to Show Wide Racial Disparities in Twin Cities Transit Times

St. Paul – A new report released by Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH, and the Center for Popular Democracy shows the impact of enormous racial disparities in commute times between transit riders of color and white drivers in the Twin Cities.

This report will show that transit riders of color in the Twin Cities lose the equivalent of about four work weeks in commute times annually compared to white drivers. The transit time penalty falls hardest on communities of color because of geographic segregation and the disparate rates of public transit use. Funding solutions and transit investments currently proposed by the State Senate would help to close this gap.

The New York Times reported last week that commuting time is the single strongest factor that changes the odds of escaping poverty and noted that sufficient access to public transportation has a stronger effect on the employment and income chances of a community than many other factors, including elementary school test scores and crime. As Minnesota wrestles with ongoing racial disparities, which are among the worst in the nation, this new report will demonstrate drastic racial disparities in Twin Cities commuter transit times.

What: Press conference and release of report “It’s About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and Its Racial Implications.” Transit riders will share their stories of how the transit time penalty has impacted them.

Who: Anthony Newby, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change

Harry Maddox, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change

Jacqueline Moren, ISAIAH

Rep. Rena Moran

Rep. Frank Hornstein

30 community members

When: Tuesday, May 12, 1:30 pm.

Where: State Office Building, Room 181, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.

Visuals: Large charts and maps from the report. Color copies of the report will be distributed.

Advance copies of the report available upon request.

CONTACT: Becky Dernbach, 717-329-5092becky@mnnoc.org

Greta Bergstrom, 651-336-6722greta@takeactionminnesota.org

Africa as a Trade Partner

Unfortunately, most of what we hear in the news about Africa has to do with war, famine and strife.  But on the afternoon of Thursday, May 7th, a panel of experts will talk about Minnesota’s trade relationship with African nations.  

Assignment:  Attend this event, record the speakers, do interviews,  and produce a report about Minnesota’s trade with Africa.

As Ambassador to Ghana, Donald Teitelbaum led a major effort to build a special partnership in counter-terrorism. Now, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, he has the responsibility of overseeing such efforts across Africa.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Teitelbaum is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs. He had early postings in Guyana, the Dominican Republic and Lebanon. African postings have included Somalia, Sudan, Uganda as Deputy Chief of Mission, South Africa as Deputy Chief of Mission, and Ghana as Ambassador.

He has worked in the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and has served as Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council with portfolios for Central Africa, East Africa, South Africa and HIV/AIDS. His tenure as Ambassador to Ghana immediately preceded his current position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Participants: 

Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, U.S. State Department

Her Excellency Oliver Wonekha, Ugandan Ambassador to the United States
Eric Schwartz, Dean of Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Sri Zaheer, Dean, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Minnesota, U.S. and African companies invited as panelists will address Africa’s fastest growing markets, technology as market drivers, agribusiness, and more:

Tom Gitaa, Kenyan expat, MShale Publisher and President
Asratie Teferra, Ethiopian expat, Zebra Consulting LLC
Mike Essien, Nigerian expat, Essien Law Office
Dr. Mary Curtin, former U.S. State Department and current Humphrey School Diplomat in Residence
Steven Clarke, International Development Consultant

Conclusion: Paul Hansen, International Trade Representative, Minnesota Trade Office

Doug Stone
Doug Stone Communications, LLC
651-698-9390 (office);  651-336-9907 (mobile)
stone7586@gmail.com
www.doug-stone.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dougstonecommunications

Minneapolis to Collect Organics

Assignment: Do an interview or report on this initiative in the City of Minneapolis to collect organics.

Organics recycling is coming to Minneapolis
Sign up to get an organics cart

April 20, 2015 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis residents are big recyclers. They already save plastic, glass, metal, cardboard, paper, cartons and other containers from homes for their recycling pickup. Soon, they will also be able to save their organics for the City to collect for composting as well.

Sign up now
The organics recycling carts will be distributed only to customers who opt in. More than 10,000 households have already signed up. The carts will be distributed in two phases: about a quarter of households will have service available in August 2015 and the rest in spring 2016. Once residents get their carts, they can start filling them with organics in a compostable bag.

Last week, the City mailed packets of information to eligible residents to help them learn about organics recycling and to encourage them to sign up.

Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling customers can request a cart by emailing swrcustomer@minneapolismn.gov – they should make sure to include their address – or by calling 612-673-2917.

What will be collected?
Organics collection will include all food scraps, including fruits, vegetables, bones, meat trimmings, breads, pasta, nut shells, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags and dairy products. Organics collection also includes food-soiled paper that can’t be recycled, including paper towels, napkins, facial tissues, waxed paper, egg cartons and pizza boxes. Just make sure the paper is not lined with plastic. Other things that can go into organics recycling include wood chopsticks, wood Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, dryer lint, animal and human hair, certified compostable plastic and houseplant trimmings.

Some of these items can’t be managed in a backyard compost bin, so people who do their own composting at home can still benefit from the program. And collection continues all year round, so people who put their own composting on hold in the winter benefit from the collections too.

What won’t be collected?
Items not accepted include milk cartons, plastic-lined paper products, vacuum cleaner bags, liquids, oils, greases and fats. If an item can go into the regular recycling, it should go there instead of in the organics collection. Yard waste must remain separate; customers should keep using yard waste collection for branches, leaves, grass clippings and other outside plant material.

How does it work?
Just like having a separate bag or container to collect recyclables at home, people use separate containers for organics recycling. It is recommended that home users keep a small organics container conveniently near the kitchen to collect materials.

There is no reason to expect a new household smell from organics; separating organics doesn’t introduce any new materials that aren’t already there. It’s simply putting them in a different place to make use of a resource, instead of managing it as trash.

Residents now get a black cart for garbage and a blue one for recycling. Organics will be collected in green carts. Any organics from the home can be put in the green cart for pickup on the weekly collection day. Organics will need to be placed in compostable bags inside the cart to keep it clean year-round and to avoid freezing to it in the winter.

With people starting to divert “garbage” into the organics recycling, a lot of people will be able to switch to smaller garbage carts if they want to and save $3 every month on their utility bills.

Composting creates a resource out of valuable materials that would otherwise become trash. Using compost returns nutrients to the soil, reduces erosion, and reduces the needs for watering and for chemical fertilizers.

For more information visit http://www.minneapolismn.gov/organics.