Membership Forum: MPMA’s Legislative Action

March 8, 2017 No Comments
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To Expand Work-Based Training Programs

by Amy Walstien

toc_columns50pxThis year, the MPMA is leading advocacy efforts at the state Legislature to expand work-based training programs to help fill the manufacturing talent pipeline. The key components of the legislation include:

  • Develop additional work-based training programs that will increase the number of high school students interested in pursuing manufacturing careers.
  • Encourage local communities to design skills training programs to meet local workforce needs.
  • Allow youth training program credits/hours to count for credit, and toward college credit and/or registered apprenticeship hour requirements.
  • Streamline the approval process for students engaged in skills training and youth apprenticeship programs.
  • Update teacher licensure rules to enable CTE-licensed teachers and work-based learning teachers to supervise youth apprenticeship and youth skills training programs.

The legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Paul Anderson (R – Plymouth) and Rep. Jason Rarick (R – Park Rapids). A broad coalition of supporters, from CTE teachers to trade associations, is backing the bill.


Long-term development of robust career pathways and training programs for youth in manufacturing is critical to the future of Minnesota’s manufacturing industry. Youth apprenticeships, internships, work-based learning, career and technical education, and other experiential learning programs offer students the opportunity to receive hands-on training from employers – a critical component to prepare students for manufacturing careers.

Recent federal and state initiatives have brought new light to apprenticeship and dual-training models for talent development. Interest is intensifying to develop viable dual-training and apprenticeship models at the high school level. Some Minnesota school districts have begun this work. Other states, like Wisconsin and Colorado, have overhauled and modernized their youth apprenticeship statutes to pave the way for new program development.

Wisconsin has a successful, nationally-recognized youth apprenticeship program that enables high school students to gain academic and occupational skills. Students completing the program earn wages, skill certificates, high school diplomas, and college credit.

Colorado recently announced it will invest $9.5 million to build CareerWise Colorado, a modern youth apprenticeship program modeled after a successful program in Switzerland.

Improving Minnesota’s youth training programs requires efforts on several fronts.

First, statutory and regulatory barriers need to be streamlined so that youth work-based training programs can be established. This will require legislative and executive branch advocacy.

Once advocacy efforts result in a modernized environment, programs will need to be developed that meet academic requirements and employer needs.

Additionally, outreach to students must continue to occur in order to build interest in youth apprenticeship programs and in manufacturing careers.pm_endmarkred-e1320337243152

AMY WALSTIEN of Walstien Law & Consulting has been hired by the MPMA Board to drive the association’s efforts to advocate for redesigned youth training programs. She can be reached at or 651-238-9264.

Copyright © 2017 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Nancy Huddleston, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing Journal.


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