Sen. Tina Smith’s New Bill Expands Workforce Training Partnerships between Minnesota Schools & Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/09/18]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith continued her push to help Minnesotans secure careers in high-demand fields with new legislation to fuel workforce training partnerships between schools and local businesses.

Often, good-paying jobs in areas like advanced manufacturing, construction, IT, and health care don’t require an expensive four-year degree. But students either aren’t aware of or don’t have access to local programs that provide the training for those jobs. The 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act gets at the heart of that issue.

Sen. Smith’s bill addresses a major need in our modern economy: education and hands-on training for the high-skill jobs of today and the future. Her proposal would expand and strengthen workforce partnerships between secondary schools, two-year colleges, and local businesses.

“Not everybody needs to attend a four-year college,” said Sen. Smith. “But all Minnesotans should be able to find a good-paying career. And that’s what my bill is all about. Workforce partnerships give students the opportunity to develop the skills they need for jobs that are available right now—often without taking on huge amounts of debt.

“Over the past months, I’ve been traveling all around Minnesota to gather input on local workforce needs. I’ve seen models that work, communities that have found success, and I’ve seen places that could benefit from more resources and support. My bill fuels partnerships between secondary schools, community and technical colleges, and local businesses. It’s an idea that works, and I’m hopeful we can get it passed into law.”

Minnesota is forecast to have a shortage of about 100,000 workers by 2024. Sen. Smith’s bill, the 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act, would help address that shortage. Her legislation funds partnerships between employers and schools (middle schools, high schools, and 2-year colleges), connecting businesses with specific needs for skilled workers with career pathway programs. The bill also provides technical assistance to agencies and extra support for rural and native-service agencies.

During her time in the Senate, Sen. Smith has traveled to communities throughout Minnesota to talk about their workforce needs. You can learn more about her bill here.