Minnesota awarded $2.2 million in worker retraining grants this month to help 16 manufacturing and health care companies remain technologically proficient and competitive.
The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) grants awarded this month range in size from $43,000 to $300,000.
The money will help retrain 2,744 workers who will either take classes at technical colleges and universities or receive instruction in house with the help of college instructors and industry experts.
The largest of the grants — $350,000 — went to Anoka-Ramsey Community College and the construction services firm API Group in New Brighton to train 571 workers over two years in field leadership, new construction technologies and work processes.
State officials said Minnesota employers need the grants to fight significant worker shortages and skill gaps in factories, hospitals and clinics. The shortage of experienced and skilled workers has worsened with baby boomer retirements and plunging unemployment.
"Minnesota is forecasted to have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020," said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith in announcing the grants. "We can't afford to leave Minnesotans unprepared for good job opportunities."
Other large grants include:
• $300,000 will let Dakota County Technical College train 351 existing and 100 new employees at the biomedical distribution and storage firm Chart Industries in New Prague.
• Another $300,000 will help 256 Metro Mold and Design workers in Rogers work with Anoka-Ramsey Community College to learn updated skills with computerized manufacturing machines, efficiency, leadership and blueprint reading.
• $221,309 goes to 3M Co. and Alexandria Technical & Community College to upgrade the technical skills of 488 workers at 3M's upgraded Alexandria and Staples sites.
• $284,369 went to Bimbo Bakeries in Roseville and Fergus Falls and Century College to help 201 employees.
• $251,686 goes for 189 employees of Technical Services for Electronics (TSE) in Jackson to be trained at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
Ten other smaller awards were scattered statewide.
The grants are administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy said the grant program has helped train more than 295,000 Minnesotans.
The program "has seen tremendous success in preparing Minnesotans for careers of the future. These training grants are used to upgrade employees' skills and effectively make Minnesota businesses more competitive and desirable places to work."