UNDATED - We continue today with our week long series called "Workers Wanted", a look at local efforts to close the skills gap in central Minnesota.

There is a bipartisan effort at both the state and federal level to address the issue. Republican Representative Tama Theis of St. Cloud says one thing she'd like to see the state do immediately is lift some of the restrictions put on teenagers working in the trade jobs.

You can't hire anyone under 18.  When we had our remodeling company we used to get phone calls all the time during the summer from parents who had kids who thought they might want to do that, and we'd have to say 'no' we can't.

 

Theis says state law allows you to have your own child work for your company, but no other relatives such as nephews or nieces. Theis believes getting more counselors in high schools would help guide students into manufacturing careers.

Theis also says her views on some of the required tests in schools has changed.  She says she'd like do to away with some of the mandatory testing, and instead do more skills testing to see where students' interests are.

Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota agrees high school kids need more exposure to the trade jobs.

And that's why I have this apprenticeship bill, with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, to make it easier for students to get into apprenticeship programs.

 

Klobuchar says she consistently hears from both companies and workers who are frustrated with the issue.

If you, or someone you know, wants more information about manufacturing jobs that are available right now in central Minnesota, the annual "Tour of Manufacturing" is happening this Saturday and next Saturday.