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6 ways to invest in productivity and upskill your current workforce

The gap between available jobs and available talent in Minnesota is growing. While Minnesota’s negative migration trends have widened this gap, the primary driving force is a reality we share with the rest of the country. An aging population has caused the number of workers leaving the workforce to significantly outpace the number entering. 

State demographer Susan Brower explained that these trends are likely to persist: "The number of people that we have available to work today in Minnesota is very close to the number of people we will have in 10 years and 15 years and 20 years unless we see some pretty big changes that we haven't seen in our recent past.”

Minnesota businesses are responding to this trend by investing in job training and upskilling efforts to cultivate top talent from within. 

Below are six resources Minnesota offers to help companies invest in productivity and upskill their current workforce. 

Partnerships and Pathways – Minnesota Jobs Skills Partnership


The Partnership Program provides training for new and existing employees of participating businesses throughout the state. Minnesota participating businesses must partner with an accredited Minnesota educational institution. Grants of up to $400,000 are awarded to the educational institution to develop and deliver custom training specific to business needs. A cash or in-kind contribution from the participating business must match the grant funds on at least a one-to-one basis.

  • Eligibility: Educational institutions must be accredited through institutional or specialized accrediting agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

  • How to apply: For businesses, the application process begins by contacting an accredited, Minnesota educational institution that may be a potential training partner.

  • Contact: Danielle Kressin, Consultant:



Job Training Incentive Program – Minnesota Jobs Skills Partnership


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. Grants of up to $200,000 are awarded to eligible businesses to provide training for new jobs. 

  • Eligibility: Businesses located outside of the seven-county metropolitan area that are adding at least three new jobs. The new jobs must pay wages at least equal to 120% of federal poverty guidelines for a family of four (currently $33,300 per year). The new jobs must also provide at least 32 hours of work per week for a minimum of nine months per year. Businesses are required to match the grant on a .5:1 basis.

  • How to apply: Interested businesses are encouraged to contact DEED at to inquire about eligibility and the availability of funding.

  • Contact: Jodie Greising, Director:



Automation Loan Participation Program – DEED


The Automation Loan Participation Program (ALPP) makes companion loans intended to fill gap financing needs for businesses purchasing machinery, equipment, or software to increase productivity and automation. Loans need to be made in conjunction with private financing, typically a bank, in an amount at least equal to the DEED loan. Loans may be up to $500,000 with 1% interest on a 5 to 7-year term.

  • Eligibility: Must be matched with private financing. The business must also be in the manufacturing, distribution, technology, or warehousing industry and have 750 or fewer employees. 
  • How to apply: The application is currently available, when complete it must be emailed to
  • Contact: SSBCI Unit team at or call John Endris, Program Administrator Principal: 651-259-7452.



Automation Training Incentive Program – DEED


This program provides grants to small businesses for the purpose of training existing workers on new automation technology. Grants of up to $35,000 are available to small businesses in the manufacturing or skilled production industry for the express purpose of training incumbent workers as quickly and effectively as possible on new automation technology. 

  • Eligibility: Minnesota businesses located outside of the seven-county metropolitan area that are investing in new automation technology at the project location. Training is for existing, full-time jobs paying at least 120% of federal poverty guidelines.

  • How to apply: Interested businesses are encouraged to contact DEED at to inquire about eligibility and the availability of funding.

  • Contact: Danielle Kressin, Consultant, Metro Area,



Pipeline Dual Training Grant – Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry


Dual-training grants are part of the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline, which was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2014 to expand dual training and apprenticeship programs. Dual-training programs provide structured on-the-job training and related instruction so employees can develop the necessary occupational competencies to succeed in their chosen careers.

  • Eligibility: Used to meet competency standards in the following industries and occupations: advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, and information technology. The employers must have an agreement with a training institution or program to provide the competency training. 

  • How to apply: The Office of Higher Education highly encourages potential applicants to contact Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline staff for assistance in establishing, reviewing, and updating dual-training programs

  • Contact: Dan Solomon, Manager:



Youth Skills Training Program – Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry


youth skills training

The Youth Skills Training (YST) program encourages, promotes, and supports the development of local partnerships between schools, employers, and community organizations. These local partnerships provide students with related classroom instruction, safety training, industry-recognized credentials, and paid work experience in high-growth and high-demand occupations.  

  • Eligibility: Applicants will demonstrate the ability to achieve these objectives through various means, including outreach, education, training, and supportive services for students. Funds cannot be used to pay student wages and must be in one of the following industries: advanced manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, healthcare, and information technology.

  • How to apply: Programs must be approved prior to students starting paid work experience. Download program approval forms.

  • Contact: Rich Wessels, Project Manager: or 651-284-5184. 




Need more assistance?

The Grow Minnesota! team at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce can provide additional assistance to help your business access the above resources.

Contact for more assistance.