MN Governor calls for investments in skills.

February 10, 2012

Earlier this week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton demonstrated his commitment to skills by attending the quarterly board meeting of the Governor’s Workforce Development Council (GWDC). In January, the Governor acted on two key recommendations in the Council’s report, All Hands on Deck: Fifteen Recommendations for Strengthen Minnesota’s Workforce, by calling for new investments to support Minnesota’s integrated learning program and a new tuition-assistance program.

At the meeting, the Governor discussed his top priorities for job creation and workforce development in this year’s legislative session, and talked about how best to move forward on the other recommendations from the All Hands on Deck report.

“We’re encouraged by Governor Dayton’s support for our plan and his efforts to make the Minnesota workforce a top priority in the legislative session,” said Inez Wildwood, Manager of Talent Acquisition with Duluth-based Allete Inc., and Chair of the GWDC. “These proposals are crucial for ensuring that Minnesota has a strong workforce that will keep the state competitive globally.”

The Council’s report recommended that the state’s integrated learning program—FastTRAC—be expanded statewide. FastTRAC is a state program that helps prepare adult workers to succeed by improving basic skills education and focusing on career specific training. The program helps train and prepare Minnesota workers for high-demand careers in fields such as health care, education, and manufacturing.

In January Governor Dayton recommended the Legislature approve an additional $4.5 million in annual spending for FastTRAC expansion, with a goal of serving 3,000 Minnesotans by 2013.

The Council also recommended new educational opportunities for adult workers that wish to expand their careers or gain new training. Governor Dayton proposed a Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program, which would provide $2,000 grants for 2,000 Minnesotans for up to two semesters of training for jobs that pay more than 175 percent of the federal poverty level.

To build on the All Hands on Deck report, National Skills Coalition partners Bryan Lindsley, Executive Director of the GWDC, and Andrea Ferstan, Community Impact Manager with the Greater Twin Cities United Way, have formed a unique partnership through the Skills@Work Campaign. The Campaign hopes to raise awareness of Minnesota’s skills gap and rally a broad base of stakeholders to support the policies needed to close the gap, including the Governor’s recent proposals.