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BSU among state’s colleges to gain training grant for high-skill manufacturing jobs

BEMIDJI – Four Minnesota colleges, including Bemidji State University, will share a $13 million grant to expand programs to train workers for high-wage, high-skilled manufacturing jobs in Minnesota.

The grant, announced Thursday by Minnesota’s Democratic delegation of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Rep. Collin Peterson, will be through the U.S. Department of Labor for creation of the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Re-Training (RAMR) program.

The program aims to train workers with industry-recognized qualifications in an effort to lead to high-wage, high-skilled employment opportunities for an estimated 3,900 workers.

A recent study from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found that nearly half of manufacturers in the state have job openings they can’t fill because they can’t find employees with the skills they need, according to the delegation’s joint news release.

Specifically, RAMR targets veterans, long-term unemployed and workers who lost their jobs due to manufacturing jobs moving overseas.

Klobuchar said the money will help Minnesota prepare students for “jobs of tomorrow.”

“From paper mills to poultry lines, American industry is changing,” she said in the release. “Increasingly, economic success depends on matching advanced technology with workers who have specialized skills to use that technology and get the job done.”

Franken echoed the DEED study’s findings.

“Nearly every manufacturer I’ve talked with in Minnesota has told me that they have jobs they can’t fill because they can’t find workers with the right skills – something that shouldn’t be happening at a time when far too many Minnesotans are struggling to find work,” Franken said.

Peterson said the program will help communities grow “by ensuring local businesses can employ local, high-skilled workers.”

In addition to BSU, the grant will provide funding at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Pine Technical College in Pine City, and St. Cloud Technical and Community College.