U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced Friday that Minnesota State Community and Technical College President Dr. Peggy Kennedy will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as her guest on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Klobuchar said M State has been a leader in the effort to narrow the manufacturing skills gap and has partnered with Minnesota businesses to prepare workers for manufacturing careers through workforce training and apprenticeship programs. Klobuchar said she has long supported efforts to help match the skills of workers with the needs of local employers.
“In order to compete in the 21st century, we need to ensure our students and workers have the skills they need to get the jobs of tomorrow that our businesses are creating today, and schools like M State are helping make this happen,” Klobuchar said. “I know [Obama] plans to focus on increasing access to community colleges at the State of the Union, and I hope the importance of developing and expanding strong workforce training programs will also be a part of his address.”
Kennedy said she is honored to attend the address.
“One of M State’s top priorities is to strengthen our workforce learning strategies to better meet the needs of the business and industries in our region,” Kennedy said. “We attempt to be as innovative and flexible as possible in pursuing this priority. Sen. Klobuchar has been very supportive of our efforts.”
M State, with campuses in Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, and Wadena, is part of the Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a consortium of 13 campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system with the goal of training workers in advanced manufacturing programs.
The school’s “CU Succeed Program” will help train 450 residents of west central Minnesota for in-demand careers in the construction and utilities industries. The school will partner with local businesses to provide training and certifications over three years in west central Minnesota using mobile training units, online workplace readiness and soft skills instruction, and workplace experiences.
Klobuchar has led bipartisan legislation with Republican Sen. John Hoeven, the Innovate America Act, which would fund 100 new STEM-focused high schools and help ensure workers have the skills they need for today’s competitive global economy.
She has also supported legislation, including the AMERICA Works Act and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, to help match the skills of workers with the needs of local employers.
Obama will deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. Tuesday.