Earn While You Learn

Currently, many employers in highly skilled fields find that students are unprepared for the positions they need. Likewise, many students who graduate are unable to find jobs or are underemployed. The Legislature is working to address these issues. In that pursuit, last year the Legislature established the MN PIPELINE Project, now called “Earn While You Learn”. The project builds on the “apprentice style” learning system of Germany, and other initiatives that exist in parts of the United States.

The first step of the MN PIPELINE Project required the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) to convene “industry councils” in four high-demand fields: information technology, health care services, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture. These councils, comprised of representatives of employers, employees, and educators, delivered plans for how to implement this program to the Legislature early in the Session.

This legislation will provide grants for the cost of workforce training to higher education institutions or programs with qualified trainers partnering with businesses. Large employers (more than $25 million in revenue) will be required to pay at least 25% of the cost to train employees. To the extent possible, the Commissioner of DEED must distribute the grant money equally based on geography, while giving preference to women or racial and ethnic minorities. Depending on the amount of applications, 20% of the grants must be directed toward racial and ethnic minorities in the metropolitan area.

To ensure the skills the workforce receives under these partnerships are transferable, the legislation calls for the development of competency standards. As much as possible, the competency standards must be based on recognized international and national standards.

STATUS: The bill is in the Finance Committee. (S.F. 5)

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