U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced yesterday that Dr. Larry Lundblad, the President of Central Lakes College in Brainerd and Staples, will be joining him as his guest at the State of the Union address tonight (Feb. 12).
Since taking office, Sen. Franken has met with business leaders all over the state, and says he has been astounded by how often he hears that job openings are going unfilled—even during times of high unemployment—because businesses can’t find workers with the right training and skills. President Lundblad’s efforts to address this problem have made him a statewide leader in closing this so-called “skills gap.”
“President Lundblad is a leader in Minnesota in fostering partnerships between business and education,” said Sen. Franken. “His efforts to close the skills gap are already helping students find employment and Minnesota manufacturers fill job openings. I am honored that President Lundblad will be joining me for the State of the Union, and I look forward to hearing the President’s thoughts on how we can improve and invest in America’s workforce in his speech tomorrow night.”
Sen. Franken also says he will be pursuing legislation on workforce development that will strengthen the relationship between colleges and businesses to help ensure students get the education they need to fill open jobs.
Central Lakes College was one of four Minnesota colleges to share in a recent $13 million U.S Department of Labor grant on workforce development. President Lundblad and his staff coordinated with Wilson Tool, a Minnesota manufacturer, to host Deputy Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris’s visit in October to make the announcement.
Sen. Franken visited Brainerd in August, and says he saw for himself the impressive partnership between Central Lakes College, the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation and the K-12 public school system to make sure high school students are exposed to careers in manufacturing.