People of Color Career Fair looks to close opportunity gap

The People of Color Career Fair in Minneapolis comes at a critical time when Minnesota is trying to close a stubborn opportunity gap.

In a tight labor market, Brian Baxter hopes to advance his career.

“I’m looking for a job in IT leadership, IT infrastructure,” said Baxter.

He flew in from southern Florida in hopes of finding a good fit.

“The job market for me in my region is very saturated,” said Baxter. “So, for me it’s very difficult to find roles for candidates such as myself. I have two degrees and a lot of experience and it’s hard to make the shift for what I need, what I’m looking to do in my career.”  

Companies face a difference challenge: not enough workers. At the People of Color Career Fair, employers such as Andersen Windows are looking for competitive talent advantages. 

“We’ve been growing over the last several years and the job market has gotten very tough and so we’re searching for talent, and there’s a lot of great talent here at this event,” said Jay Lund, the chairman and CEO of Andersen Windows. “And we’re also committed to diversity and inclusion and this is a way to lead by example and get out there and get a chance to visit with these folks and talk about company and our culture and why we think Andersen would be a great place to work for them.”  

The event is designed to help close the deep opportunity gap in Minnesota. The unemployment rate as of March for whites sits at 2.6 percent. The unemployment rate for blacks and other people of color is more than double.

With a state workforce that is aging and changing, Governor Tim Walz, who attended the career fair, says the employment gaps have to close.

“So, having this concerted, focused effort being very intentional by these great employers here, they know it’s the right thing to do, but they also know it’s economically the right thing to do to make sure we’re not letting good employees slip through the cracks,” said Gov. Walz.  

That includes workers like Brian Baxter.

“The hope today is to land a good job that will get me in the right path in my career,” said Baxter.