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Minnesota job skills training trying to reach deeper into ag sector

Farmers and agribusiness who want to learn more about the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline can participate in a one-hour online forum at 1 p.m., Feb. 7, 2023.

Dan Solomon.jpg
Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline manager Dan Solomon presents attendees about workforce needs in the Bemidji area hosted by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry on Tuesday, Nov. 31, 2022, at the Bemidji Public Library.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota wants more farms and agribusinesses to take advantage of a state program that helps pay for training in careers such as farm manager, swine technician and equipment mechanic.

The Department of Labor and Industry, the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline will pay for $6,000 worth of education per worker, with up to $150,000 per employer.

Agriculture is one of four employment sectors targeted by the program. Farmers and agribusiness who want to learn more can participate in a one-hour online forum at 1 p.m., Feb. 7. Those interested can find the registration link at https://www.dli.mn.gov/business/workforce/pipeline-events .

A grant application program opens March 1 and closes April 3.

While agriculture is one of four areas of emphasis, along with advanced manufacturing, health care services and information technology, state officials say the program has more typically been used by larger agribusiness than by farms, but they are hoping to reach more small employers.

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American Crystal Sugar has used the grants to train workers at its sugarbeet processing plant in Moorhead. While Crystal is an agribusiness, the training grants have been used for mechatronics in its sugar refining.

The situation is similar for Seneca Foods in Montgomery and AGCO in Jackson.

“So they are kind of intertwined, but I also want to break more into the agriculture industry,” said Erik Holtan, a consultant for the program.

The Feb. 7 online presentation will include information from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which has used grants from the dual pipeline program.

“In addition to being a training provider themselves, they also are a really large working farm. And they have leveraged this program for themselves to train folks in horticulture farm manager kind of roles,” said Dan Solomon, manager of the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline. “We know, it's really helpful for employers to not just hear from program staff, but also hear from folks in the field, who can share about their experience with the program and how to set up dual training.”

The program has about a dozen job categories that are eligible and plan to add reimbursement for veterinary training.

While the business or farm needs to be in Minnesota to be eligible, Solomon said the training could come from an out-of-state school, private school, or online school. But he said the training needs to result in some sort of degree, certificate or industry recognized credential.

Solomon said that while typically the training is happening in the same months that the worker is on the job, there may be some flexibility for more seasonal jobs.

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“Ag has been a challenging industry of our four industries, but I think we're constantly trying to learn and adapt,” Solomon said.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREMINNESOTAJOBS
Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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