Klobuchar, Franken Announce $1.5 Million in Federal Funding for the Minnesota Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Minnesota Department of Labor a $1.5 million federal grant to fund the Minnesota Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative. The funds, provided through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative, will be used to help meet the need for equitable, demand-driven career pathways in construction and other high-growth industries.

“Skill development in industries like construction and manufacturing is critical to our nation’s competitiveness and in creating a pathway to good jobs for our workers,” said Klobuchar said. “This grant for the Minnesota Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative will assist workers in meeting the needs of the more than 70 percent of manufacturers in our state who are looking to fill jobs that require higher-skills and experience. An investment in our workforce and manufacturers will make our state and country more competitive in the global economy.”

“When I travel around Minnesota, I always hear from business owners who have jobs going unfilled because they can’t find workers with the right skills,” said Franken, a member of the Senate Education and Labor Committee. “This problem is called the ‘skills gap,’ and it’s something I’ve been trying to address for a long time. Just this week, I met with students, educators, labor leaders, and business leaders in Alexandria and St. Paul to highlight partnerships between schools and businesses in our state that help prepare students for good paying jobs. We need a workforce system that provides businesses looking to expand and grow with a skilled workforce and prepares tomorrow’s workers with 21st century jobs-and this funding is an important part of doing that.”

To increase participation in registered apprenticeships, the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative will engage employers, educators, labor and workforce intermediaries in recruiting and retention strategies. The Minnesota Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative will register at least 566 apprentices and engage 134 news businesses in registered apprenticeships.

Klobuchar has long supported efforts to help workers succeed in an increasingly specialized workforce while making the country’s economy more competitive. In September, she and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the American Apprenticeship Act to create and expand tuition assistance programs for participants in apprenticeship programs. Klobuchar also helped pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in June 2014, which included her bipartisan provision to help match the skills of workers with the needs of local employers. The provision established competitive grants for partnerships that help provide workers with the skills needed to fill vacancies in up-and-coming industries. Additionally, she led bipartisan legislation with Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), the Innovate America Act, which would fund 100 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused high schools and help ensure workers have the skills they need for today’s competitive global economy.

Franken is a strong supporter of improving our country’s workforce development system and has long fought to close our nation’s the skills gap. To highlight the importance of workforce training programs, Franken recently brought U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez on a visit to U.S. Bank Stadium-the new home of the Minnesota Vikings-where apprenticeships helped increase the participation of women, minorities, and veterans in the workforce that built the stadium. And just this week, Franken kicked off his “Advancing Career Pathways Tour” of Minnesota to highlight efforts around the state where employers and schools are forming partnerships to help prepare students for jobs of the future and to address the nation’s skills gap.

Franken has a bill called the Community College to Career Fund Act to fund more partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges. These partnerships will focus on valuable job training-related efforts, such as registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships for low-income students that allow them simultaneously to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skill field. Earlier this year, Franken also co-sponsored the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, a bipartisan bill to prepare Americans for good-paying, high-skill careers in industries like engineering, manufacturing, and information technology by creating and strengthening more registered apprenticeship programs.

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