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Apprentice programs are an important tool in workforce preparation

There has been much national debate on how to attract and retain manufacturing jobs in the United States, but it’s the second side of the coin — cultivating a skilled workforce — that needs a spotlight. The Department of Labor launched National Apprenticeship Week in 2015 to help educate businesses and leaders on the importance of apprenticeship programs. Earlier this year, through bipartisan support, the EARNS Act was introduced to increase the number of registered apprenticeship programs, which are regrettably underutilized in the U.S. Progress has been made in our state, but it’s just a start.

As a member of Minnesota’s thriving manufacturing base, MTU Onsite Energy introduced an ambitious youth apprenticeship program three years ago in partnership with Mankato Area Public Schools, and other area manufacturers to help create a pipeline of skilled and confident workers. The Youth Employment Acceleration Program (YEAP) provides high school students with structured hands-on training that offers the rare opportunity to earn a wage while gaining marketable work skills, laying the groundwork for their future. The program offers a unique approach to learning outside of a traditional classroom where students work daily and participate in career skill development workshops. The participating YEAP students and families understand the value of the skills and work experience. The program generates community benefits for students, the school district, and businesses.

There is an alarming shortage of trained workers in the U.S. We urge other industry leaders to work together and help provide on-the-job training to ensure the recent record job growth in Mankato is met with a pool of talented local candidates.

MTU Onsite Energy has produced power generation systems in Mankato for nearly 65 years and currently employees more than 300 community members.

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