ST. PAUL — Hundreds of college-bound students across Minnesota now have the opportunity to be awarded workforce development scholarships worth $2,500 or more that will help them launch a career in a high-demand occupation in Minnesota.

These scholarships were made possible by a $7 million appropriation from the Legislature after a successful pilot program stemming from the 2017 legislative session that initially awarded $1 million in scholarships in the 2018-2019 academic year. The scholarships are for students pursuing careers within advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, information technology, early childhood education and transportation at any of the 30 state colleges of Minnesota State.

“As I have traveled around the state, a theme that I consistently hear from employers is that Minnesota is facing a critical shortage of workers with the skills needed for high-demand occupations,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “Workforce Development Scholarships have proven to be an effective tool for attracting students into these fields and helping them find a path towards a satisfying and well-paying career. We are grateful to the Legislature and the Governor for this opportunity, and we look forward to awarding these scholarships to help meet Minnesota’s workforce needs.”

In the 2018-2019 academic year, nearly 400 Workforce Development Scholarships of $2,500 were awarded to students entering Minnesota State colleges as part of a pilot program funded by a $1 million appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature during the 2017 session. The scholarships were made available to new students entering associate degree, diploma or certificate programs in high-demand sectors of Minnesota’s economy at any of the 30 Minnesota State community and technical colleges. The qualifying programs included advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care and information technology. The scholarships covered approximately half the cost of tuition and fees for the required credits.

As one sign of the impact these scholarships can have, many colleges raised additional funds from private sources to supplement the funds provided by the Legislature. For example, the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association donated $30,000 to support students in the manufacturing industry, and Riverland Community College secured matches from business partners totaling $45,000.