Workforce Development one of nine organizations to receive funding to train underrepresented workers for clean energy careers

Published 8:50 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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An organization with Austin connections is one of several Minnesota organizations that have received grants to build career pathways in clean energy careers for those in underrepresented communities.

Workforce Development, based in Rochester and with satellite offices in nine areas of southeast Minnesota including Austin, was one of nine organizations to receive part of $2.7 million in grant funding for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) workers, as well as low-income Minnesotans.

The pathways would guide workers into union trade jobs in fields like construction, clean energy and energy efficiency.

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Gov. Tim Walz announced the grants Tuesday. Funds will be coming from the  Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Clean Economy Equitable Workforce initiative, a new program to develop a skilled, diverse workforce to support the state’s transition to a green economy.

“A green economy sets us up for a healthier future while ensuring that all Minnesotans share the benefits of clean and renewable energy. This includes equal opportunity to fill cutting edge jobs that will become available,” Walz said in a press release Tuesday. “These grants are helping us build the skilled, diverse workforce we need to achieve 100% clean energy by 2040.”

Workforce Development received $400,000 for construction industry pathways.

All grant recipients will provide the following services for program participants:

  • Workforce training, case management services and support to achieve certification or credentials.   
  • Career development support that includes career setting goals based on the individual’s personal strengths and addressing potential barriers to achieving goals.    
  • Workers’ rights training including labor organization introduction, legal advocacy and wage recovery.     
  • Employment placement and advancement with employer partners that offer self-sustaining wages and/or entry into registered apprenticeships. 
  • Culturally appropriate and linguistically relevant job readiness training curricula.  

 The Wilson Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies have issued a joint Request for Proposals to the nine DEED grantees in order to strategically align private support with the state’s funding. The goal of the private support is to enable grantees to provide participants with flexible financial resources that go above and beyond standard wrap-around support, further enabling their success. Up to $600,000 in private funding will be awarded to DEED grantees in July.