ST. PAUL, MINN – If newly introduced legislation is passed, rural communities in Greater Minnesota will have counselors at workforce development centers dedicated to helping address gaps in the labor force by bringing together students, businesses and schools. This is the goal of a bill introduced by Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), chair of last fall’s bipartisan Rural Task Force. Rural Senate legislators have banded together this year to address a common problem in their communities.
“Whether you live in Bemidji or Fairmont, we’re hearing the same story from businesses – they want to expand, but simply can’t find the skilled labor they need.” said Saxhaug. “We crafted this legislation in order to help connect young people 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.
Saxhaug’s bill also includes an annual appropriation of $10 million to the Minnesota Youth Program for employment and career counseling to young Minnesotans. This will serve to help address the significant youth career counseling deficiency and will help provide work experience to youth in the workforce service areas.
“We want young people to be exposed to a variety of good paying career options that are both in-demand and local, while they are still in high school. We believe this legislation addresses this need on several levels and will help connect the dots currently lacking in rural Minnesota,” said Saxhaug.
This legislation enjoys bipartisan support from fellow Rural Task Force members, including co-authors Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna), Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) and Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne).
For more information on this legislation or any other concerns, Senator Saxhaug can be reached at Sen.Tom.Saxhaug@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4136.