“Everyone ought to have a chance to have a great job and a great career.”

Minnesota U.S. Senator Tina Smith

Minnesota U.S. Senator Tina Smith has introduced a bill meant to address the workforce shortage, by funding partnerships between employers and schools – middle and high schools, as well as two-year colleges – to develop and implement career pathways programs for students that don’t require a four-year degree.

Mankato’s economy has been the strongest in the state in recent months, and there are more job openings than there are people looking for work. Smith said her bill would give people an opportunity to develop the skills they need for the high-skilled jobs available. “Mankato is just really booming right now; people want to be there, they want to live there and this could be just the kind of strategy that could help get folks trained for the jobs that are being created.”

The 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act would help businesses train the workers in the skills their company needs, and help students avoid the unprecedented level of college debt many graduates are now experiencing.

“They can go through these career and technical training programs and make great salaries, $55-$65,000 but they also don’t graduate with a lot of debt,” Smith said.

The bill also provides technical assistance to agencies and extra support for rural and native-service agencies.