Sen. Klobuchar's outreach staff conducts workforce listening session with DL stakeholders

After playing a video message from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, her staff conducted a workforce listening session with Detroit Lakes area community leaders at M State on Wednesday, March 30.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to various Detroit Lakes workforce stakeholders and organizations via a pre-recorded video message at M State in Detroit Lakes on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — Members of Sen. Amy Klobuchar's outreach staff conducted an hour-long workforce listening session with Detroit Lakes stakeholders and organizations on Wednesday, March 30.

Klobuchar kicked off the event at M State with a prerecorded video that played for attendees, highlighting measures the senator supports like: apprenticeship programs; educational savings accounts that include skills training and credentialing programs; and skills training credits up to $4,000 per person for individuals who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wish to be trained in more high-demand fields.

"From Red Wing to Winona, Rochester to Detroit Lakes, from East Grand Forks to Bemidji, Grand Rapids to Hermantown and Hinckley, we all share the same goal of making sure workers have the skills they need to succeed and help our state's businesses succeed, and thus, help our state succeed," said Klobuchar in the video. "Every person deserves a chance for success, and by making sure Americans can find apprenticeships and afford skills training at a community college, they get a fair shot."

Klobuchar stated that currently, there are more than 205,000 job vacancies in Minnesota and, in a recent manufacturing survey, 90% of manufacturers said it was "difficult" to find workers with the right skills and experience.

She is also currently supporting, or co-sponsoring, multiple bills in Congress that support apprenticeship training and skills programs , expand education savings accounts to include skills training and credentialing programs , and help workers access flexible skills training credits for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic .


The meeting was attended by members of M State, staff members for the city of Detroit Lakes, Rural MN Concentrated Employment Program staff, Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce representatives, and officials from Detroit Lakes Public Schools.

"We're seeing more and more interest in Greater Minnesota and the issues that we face, and how they are different than the metro areas and how we need to be talking about them more in unison," said Carrie Brimhall, president of M State. "These meetings are really just important for us to gather, look each other in the face and remind each other that we're here for the same purpose, which is to build a strong community."

She added that the workforce issues bought up during the meeting — like child care availability, adequate affordable housing stock and financial barriers for certification and training programs — have been brought up before at similar gatherings.

"The beauty of what's happening, if I can look at it that in crisis, in the state that we're in right now, people really get creative," said Brimhall. "So, things that we maybe talked about, dreamt about, are actually coming to reality, and the money that is being given to people to create an environment where they can do better, and be better and advance in their career, is unbelievable."

During his introduction at the meeting, Rommel Lee, outreach director for Klobuchar's office, said workforce issues are a "hot topic" of discussion as the country continues to move on slowly from the COVID-19 pandemic, and they also need to prepare for the workforce of future generations at the same time.

As Lee and his colleagues were driving up to Detroit Lakes, Lee said, "Literally every half an hour you'd see a sign on the side of road: mechanic needed, welder needed, machine operator... So this is clearly an important discussion, especially out here when we're talking about the communities of Greater Minnesota."

Lee said the Detroit Lakes round table discussion was one of nine stops the outreach team was making across the state this week to discuss local workforce issues with community leaders. Upon their conclusion, the team will provide the senator with a detailed report of what was talked about.

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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