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Students, however, “see the need for this funding on a daily basis,” Moriah Miles, state chairwoman of the Minnesota State University Student Association, told legislators.
Her group supports MnSCU’s budget request, which assumes a 3 percent tuition increase in each of the next two years. It also includes funding for internships and programs to help boost graduation rates.
“Many of our universities are training students on equipment that is out-of-date,” said Miles, a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “This is one investment we need to get our system back to the level our students and employers expect.”
In Jackson, Minn., AGCO’s tractor assembly plant needs welders. Badly. That’s why the company put $15,000 toward a second mobile welding lab at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
Businesses contributed $102,600 toward the project, plus $177,300 worth of equipment. The state’s share: $74,779.
“If I could find 20 skilled welders right now, I’d take them,” said Kim Phillips, employee relations manager for the agricultural equipment manufacturer. The company pays welders $16.58 to $21.93 an hour, Phillips said.
The college trains 12 students at a time in a 120-hour program that includes blueprint reading. AGCO hired six of the 10 graduates from the first session.
AGCO likely would have contributed to the MinnWest lab without the promise of a match, Phillips said, but “it would have been a stretch” to fund the project without state money. She said she believes Minnesota ought to invest in technical education to attract people from elsewhere.
“We have the work available,” she said. “We just need the skills.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168