Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Senate Member of the Joint Economic Committee and Al Franken, the top Democrat on the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, announced that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will receive $5 million to create an apprenticeship partnership program with Enterprise Minnesota, a private-sector organization that helps support manufacturing companies across the state.

The partnership, which includes more than 100 employers spanning several key industries, is expected to bring more than 800 Minnesotans into new apprenticeships. The program will provide on-the-job, industry recognized, credentialed training in the agriculture, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and transportation industries.

“We need to focus on training our workers for the jobs of tomorrow that our businesses are creating today,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “We have businesses in Minnesota that need workers and workers that need jobs, but oftentimes their skills just aren’t matching up. That is why I urged the Department of Labor to support this new partnership, and I look forward to seeing it help close the skills gap, while making American businesses and workers in our state and across the country more competitive in the global economy.”

“All across the country, there are millions of open jobs that could be filled today if there were workers who had the right skills,” Sen. Franken said. “This new partnership between MN DEED and Enterprise Minnesota, which I led the fight for earlier this year, will bring together employers from all across the state to get our workers trained up for high-demand jobs.”

Klobuchar has long supported efforts to help workers succeed in an increasingly specialized workforce while making the country’s economy more competitive. She helped pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in June 2014, which included her bipartisan provision to help match the skills of workers with the needs of local employers. The provision established competitive grants for partnerships that help provide workers with the skills needed to fill vacancies in up-and-coming industries. She is also leading bipartisan legislation with Republican Sen. John Hoeven, the Innovate America Act, which would fund 100 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused high schools and help ensure workers have the skills they need for today’s competitive global economy.

Since taking office, Sen. Franken, the top Democrat on the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, has been one of Congress’ leading advocates for investments in workforce training. In April, he led the Minnesota Congressional delegation in a letter of support for the grant that MN DEED and Enterprise Minnesota are receiving. He’s also met with business leaders all over Minnesota to talk about ways to address the skills gap, where job openings go unfilled because businesses can’t find workers with the right skills. A member of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Franken took a major role in working to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the Senate, and he attended the White House signing of the bill. Sen. Franken fought for provisions in WIOA to bolster partnerships between community and technical colleges and businesses to train workers. Those measures are similar to ones in his Community College to Career Fund Act