Legislation aimed at helping address gaps in the labor force in Greater Minnesota was heard in the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee this week. The Rural Career Counseling Bill helps connect the dots between the workforce, businesses, and schools. The bill is the culmination of work done by the Rural Task Force last fall and enjoys bipartisan support.
Legislators heard testimony this fall about businesses wanting to expand, but simply not having the skilled labor available to hire. This legislation was crafted in order to help connect the workforce to the jobs that are available in their own communities.
The hope is that workforce development center coordinators will have their fingers on the pulse of what their communities need, and therefore will have greater success in getting young people into local, good paying jobs that are currently experiencing a shortage. The legislation calls for $2.25 million to be appropriated to the commissioner of employment and economic development for up to nine rural workforce coordinator positions.
The bill also includes an appropriation of $27 million over the biennium to the Minnesota Youth Program for employment and career counseling to young Minnesotans. This will serve to help address the significant school counselor and youth career counseling deficiencies and will help provide work experience to youth in the workforce service areas. Bill authors hope this portion of the bill will expose more young people to a variety of good paying career options that are both in-demand and local, while they are still in high school. (S.F. 420)