Workforce & Education

Ensuring an educated, quality work force for the Brainerd Lakes Area is critical to the region’s economic future. Through the Chamber’s Bridges Workplace Connection program, the Chamber helps high school students explore local career options. The Workplace Connection brings together area businesses, Central Lakes College, M-State, and 24 central Minnesota high schools to introduce various career paths through hands-on work-based learning.  Research confirms that a workplace connection creates relevance, guides career and educational goals, and connects employers with graduates.

Key Workplace Connection initiatives include:

  • Job Shadow experiences
  • Employers in schools
  • Teachers in the Workplace
  • Career days
  • Support of the National Career Readiness Certificate
  • Job fairs

According to a State of Minnesota report, only 25 percent of the students who enter post secondary education graduate with a certificate, diploma or degree; 75 percent are left behind, creating a largely untrained workforce, unless we change how we help students identify career pathways. Students must be exposed to high demand career opportunities that pay a living wage and develop the skills needed by employers.

Since its 2007 inception, Bridges has coordinated more than 2,500 job shadow experiences, hosted more than 7,600 students at Career Days exploring more than 150 different careers, and more than 400 students have participated on tours of industry.

The Bridges program is funded through grants and donations, with in-kind contributions from the Brainerd Lakes Chamber.

For more information, visit or contact Bridges Workplace Connection director, Mary Gottsch.