Fast-growing pipe maker Uponor North America is starting an apprenticeship program in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to recruit and train dozens of manufacturing novices in the art of high-tech production.

The three-year apprenticeship will offer participants 6,000 hours of on-the-job training or retraining, the company said Friday.

The program is one of many measures the state and factory employers are taking to address Minnesota's labor shortage and the difficulty manufacturers face finding workers who are already skilled.

By partnering with the state, Uponor's U.S. headquarters in Apple Valley will receive help in developing its apprenticeship program. Uponor also will receive a $5,000 Minnesota Apprenticeship Initiative grant for every apprentice brought on board. The money will help cover training costs, state officials said.

To celebrate the new program and National Apprenticeship Week, Uponor will host a public reception from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Apple Valley site.

Uponor's new program was developed as part of the state's two-year-old Apprenticeship Initiative, which looks to expand registered apprenticeships that can serve as a workforce development tool.

Minnesota's initiative was funded in 2015 via a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The initiative targets advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care, technology, transportation and construction companies. The goal is for more than 100 employers in Minnesota to recruit, train and retain 1,000 new apprentices over five years.