By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota faces an employment issue that doesn’t involve a lack of jobs — it’s too many openings, and not enough qualified workers.

A study by the Manufacturing Institute concluded that over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the U.S. But with baby boomers retiring, and fewer young people gaining these skills, about two million of those jobs will go unfilled.

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“We have a skills gap,” Senator Al Franken (D-MN) said.

Senator Franken is proposing the Community College to Career Fund Act

“Create grants that help businesses and community colleges train workers for high-skilled, high paying, good jobs,” Senator Franken said.

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Erick Ajax owns EJ Ajax Metal Forming Solutions in Fridley. He’s been investing in fast-track programs for students at Twin Cities technical colleges for several years. He also covers the cost of employees pursuing two-year degrees.

“The reason we can do that is because of the talent level we’re able to recruit, bring in, and then develop,” Ajax said.

Senator Franken hopes his proposed legislation would give college students access to manufacturing equipment at school, or help fund paid internships.

The amount of government grant money in the Community College to Career Fund Act would be determined by how effective a partnership could be between a business and college, such as how many students or workers it would impact, or how many jobs it could create.

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“We need to do that in order to compete globally,” Senator Franken said.

Kate Raddatz