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Building a skilled workforce for the manufacturing industry is more important than ever, with over 70% of Minnesota manufacturers saying that the inability to attract qualified workers is limiting their ability to grow. 

MPMA champions strategies to help manufacturers attract and retain skilled workers and advocates for strengthening technical education to train the next generation. Workforce development is a cornerstone of our mission. MPMA leads several workforce training programs that connect employers to employees, and we also partner with other workforce development and training programs in Minnesota.


Many programs seek applications during specific times of the year. Below are programs that are currently seeking applications from interested students and companies.

St Paul College/Ramsey County Training Program

MPMA is partnering with Ramsey County, St Paul College, and Goodwill Easter Seals of MN to provide entry-level training for students living in Ramsey County. Training will involve two semesters of machine tool training at St Paul College, combined with on-the-job training at participating manufacturers. MPMA and Goodwill are recruiting students for this program that will kick off summer of 2023. College training is paid for by Ramsey County, and the students also receive support from Goodwill Easter Seals and MPMA.  

If your company is within a short distance of Ramsey County, and you’re interested in partnering with a trainee (prospective employee!), contact us for more information.

Anoka Tech

MPMA has partnered with Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce for a Pipeline Dual Training Grant program at Anoka Technical College for an entry-level machine tool program. In 2023, MPMA also applied for a second grant for next-level training. Trainees must be employees of a company (as of the first day of training) and the training expenses are completely covered by the grant (through the Office of Higher Education and managed by the Department of Labor & Industry).

If you are interested in sending an employee to this training, please reach out to MPMA Workforce Development Coordinator contact us for more information.


MPMA Education Foundation

The MPMA Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity that supports students entering manufacturing-related programs with annual scholarships to qualified students. In 2022, the Foundation awarded eight $2,000 scholarships to students in manufacturing-related programs.

In 2018 and 2020, the Foundation made two contributions of $30,000 each for scholarships that are offered to new students entering advanced manufacturing programs at Minnesota State colleges. These contributions supplement scholarships offered under the Workforce Development Scholarship program.

Youth Skills Training/YST@DLI

In 2017, MPMA spearheaded the legislation that created the Youth Skills Training program, enabling more high school students to participate in skills-based training at employer sites.

Some examples of MPMA member companies that have earned YST@DLI grants include:

  • Branch Manufacturing, partnering with North Branch Area Schools.
  • BTD Manufacturing, partnering with Lakeville Area Schools.
  • K & G Manufacturing, partnering with Faribault Public Schools.
  • MRG Tool and Die, partnering with Faribault Public Schools.
  • Permac Industries, partnering with Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Schools.
  • TEAM Industries, partnering with Bemidji Career Academies.
  • Ultra Machining Company (UMC), partnering with Monticello Public Schools.


Below are a few of the innovative ways that companies have approached workforce challenges.

Advanced Research Corporation sees great benefits from apprenticeships and internships at all levels to develop very highly skilled teams. They partner with both a technical college and university and then combine those machinists and engineers into cross-functional teams that work closely. Engineers learn to run machines, and Machinists learn to solve complex problems.


Heilux takes the approach of recruiting high school and college students, as well as students active in Scouts, with a high aptitude for problem-solving, work ethic, and leadership. They are organized in teams of two and allowed to set their schedules based on three different shifts. They leverage their need for “gamification” by challenging the teams to cross-train each other and compete for higher levels of productivity and quality. After 3 weeks, productivity increased by 300% over their regular full-time staff, shift leads rose up, and engagement increased.


Continental Engineering and Manufacturing knows they can’t simply rely on hiring people with existing talent. Seeing workforce programs in existence, they specifically recruit inexperienced candidates based upon workforce programs they can feed them into. This allows them more freedom in recruiting and still the ability to develop high-skilled employees. They work with Eden Prairie High School in their Talon Robotics program to coach, mentor, and assist students, some of which become apprentices and employees of CEM.


MPMA also works closely with other workforce development programs from the Minnesota government and manufacturing organizations to provide resources to manufacturing businesses. In addition to our programs listed above, we can also provide guidance, resources, and assistance with the programs below.

Dual-Training Pipeline Program

Grants to help cover education costs for employees are available through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Minnesota Department of Labor staff members consult with manufacturers of all sizes about their hiring challenges, create a dual-training program that fits their needs, and connect them to resources at no cost.

Registered Apprenticeship

Minnesota Department of Labor staff members provide free services to assist employers with the development, registration, and launch of their apprenticeship program. Additionally, the Minnesota Apprenticeship Initiative offers grants to employers to help cover costs associated with starting a registered apprenticeship program.

The Redemption Project

Providing meaningful employment to reduce recidivism rates in the country with action-oriented partners that provide new beginnings for inmates ready to turn their lives around.

Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence

MSAMCOE represents the entire Mn State Colleges and Universities system to work closely with technical and community colleges, the K-12 education system, and industry, to develop effective resources and deliver education to meet industry needs. MSAMCOE also created the “Minnesota Manufactured” branding as a way to engage youth and bring awareness to the industry.

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP)

Grants of up to $400,000 are awarded to the educational institution to develop and deliver custom training specific to business needs. Minnesota participating businesses must partner with an accredited Minnesota educational institution. Funds may be used for training-related costs such as curriculum development, instruction, training materials and supplies, training equipment, and instructor travel. A cash or in-kind contribution from the participating business must match the grant funds on at least a one-to-one basis.

Requests for wage subsidies and tuition reimbursement are not eligible. However, wages paid to employees during training may be counted towards the required matching contribution.

Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP)

This program provides grants to new or expanding businesses located in Greater Minnesota for the purpose of training workers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Automation Training Incentive Program (ATIP)

This program provides grants to small businesses for the purpose of training existing workers on new automation technology.