Member Forum: Legislative Action

July 6, 2017 No Comments
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Youth Skills Training Program Signed Into Law

by Amy Walstien

toc_columns50pxManufacturers across the state will soon begin seeing more young workers-in-training on the shop floor thanks to legislative efforts led by the MPMA.

Workforce development was at the top of MPMA’s legislative agenda this year. As the skilled workforce shortage has increasingly impacted the ability of manufacturers to fill vacant positions and expand operations, MPMA members desired to advance advocacy efforts to encourage young people to enter the manufacturing industry. MPMA worked with employers, educators, and policy experts to develop legislation designed to remove barriers to student participation in high school skilled training programs and expand local internship and apprenticeship programs. The result was the Youth Skills Training Program, based in part on successful youth apprenticeship models in Wisconsin and Colorado.

The Youth Skills Training Program at the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is designed to open the doors for more high school students to participate in skills-based internships and apprenticeships. The initiative will provide a framework for training programs that incorporate employer participation, uniform skills and competencies, and pathways to post-secondary programs such as registered apprenticeships, two-year technical programs, and four-year degree programs. Importantly, the Youth Skills Training Program will make it easier for employers to offer internships and apprenticeships to high school students.
MPMA’s Youth Skills Training Program legislation was introduced as Senate File 474 by Sen. Paul Anderson (R- Plymouth). Anderson represents the west-metro suburb of Plymouth, which boasts the greatest number of medical device manufacturers per capita in the state. In the House, the lead authors for House File 631 were Rep. Jason Rarick (R – Pine City), who is a master electrician trained through apprenticeship programs, and Rep. Barb Haley (R – Red Wing), who has been working with Southeast Minnesota manufacturers to advance youth apprenticeship programs.

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SF 474/HF 631 was heard by several House and Senate committees during February and March, passing through each committee with strong bipartisan support. Helping to present the bill at hearings were several MPMA members, including: Mike Yeager (Yeager Machine Inc.), Rod Gramse (MRG Tool and Die Corp.), Kim Arrigoni (Haberman Machine Inc.), and Jaci Dukowitz (Ultra Machining Company Inc.). Representatives from numerous high school programs also participated in development of the bill and presented at committee hearings, including those from Hutchinson High School, White Bear Lake Area High School, the Intermediate School District 916 Career and Tech Center, and Anoka Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP).

The Youth Skills Training Program ultimately was included in the omnibus Jobs and Energy bill, one of 10 large appropriation bills that comprised the Legislature’s biennial budget package. After vetoing the first version of the omnibus Jobs and Energy bill, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the second version on May 30.

Gov. Dayton lauded the Youth Skills Training Program in a letter to legislative leaders: “I support several legislative initiatives included in the (Jobs and Energy omnibus) bill, including … the new Youth Skills Training Program (that) has the potential to attract young people to high-demand, high-growth careers.”
While the session ended in drama over other provisions of the state biennial budget, the Youth Skills Training Program is signed into law, and the Department of Labor and Industry will begin implementation this summer by convening employers and others to design the program framework.

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Minnesota manufacturers long have supported efforts to welcome youth interested in manufacturing careers into the industry – the new Youth Skills Training Program will enable manufacturers to play a deeper role in training youth through expanded high school internship and apprenticeship programs.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 amy@walstien.com 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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