Minnesota employees and their employers received nearly $2.9 million in state grants to fund employment-based dual training for 664 current and new employees as part of the Minnesota PIPELINE Program.

Five grants were awarded in the Brainerd area: Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby; Homecrest Outdoor Living, Wadena; Pequot Tool & Manufacturing, Pequot Lakes; Syvantis Technologies, Baxter; and Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Brainerd.

The PIPELINE Programs' dual training grants, which were included in Gov. Tim Walz's budget, give dual trainees the opportunity to earn while they learn and help businesses meet their workforce needs. Four industries with in-demand, high-growth occupations are eligible to receive grants: advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services and information technology. PIPELINE is an acronym for Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry.

"We are hearing remarkable stories of employees not only completing their education, but also being promoted and prepared for supervisory positions as the result of the PIPELINE Program," stated Commissioner Dennis Olson, Office of Higher Education, in a news release. "Dual training grants are a successful model for both the employee and the employer."

This year, 43 of the new grants are being awarded to companies located in greater Minnesota, with 17 in the metro area. Employees will earn a wide variety of industry-recognized degrees, certificates and credentials as part of this program to improve their skills and advance their careers, the release stated.

Statewide, the grants are intended to support 35 employers' ongoing investments and robust training programs in advanced manufacturing-one in agriculture, 16 in health care and seven in information technology. In addition, one of the grantees will train employees in both advanced manufacturing and agriculture.

The Office of Higher Education administers the dual training grant program in collaboration with the Minnesota PIPELINE Program at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Grant funds can be used to cover the cost of dual trainees' tuition, fees and required materials for the related instruction training in PIPELINE Program occupations.

"By pairing on-the-job training with classroom learning, the PIPELINE Program provides skills for workers, while helping employers meet their workforce needs," stated Commissioner Nancy Leppink of the labor and industry department in the release. "Apprenticeships and dual training continue to be important training models that successfully assist employers recruit and retain employees. We are excited to continue to support them with this eighth round of grants."