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From the Desk of Representative Natalie Zeleznikar

Rep. Zeleznikar Welcomes Local Testifiers for Trio of Bills in Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee

Saint Paul, MN — April 3, 2024, Rep­resentative Natalie Zeleznikar (R – Fre­denberg Township) presented three bills in the Workforce Devel­opment Finance and Policy Committee to address critical needs in the community. The package of bills ad­dresses training needs for Lake County Am­bulance, IT career planning, and grants for career and techni­cal training. Each of these bills offers high school students’ op­portunities to expand their skillset as they approach entering the workforce into lucra­tive and highly needed fields.

“Students want to see a pathway to success that fits their goals and values. These career and technical training programs make those pathways accessi­ble while filling the troubling gaps in our workforce,” said Rep. Zeleznikar on her leg­islation. “Respected, well-paying jobs are the key to keeping our communities prosper­ous for generations to come. I look forward to all of the stories of families and success that will result from students being em­powered to build a life for themselves thanks to quality education.”

Randy Strohmey­er, Executive Direc­tor, testified on the $100,000 grant request to establish a program for Lake County and Cook County high school students inter­ested in pursuing ca­reers as an emergen­cy medical technician (EMT). From 2018 – 2021, Minnesota lost 4,506 EMT’s. This program would offer high school students the opportunity to have free tuition and a free student internship in their 11th and 12th grade years.

Ambulance services are a valid concern for Greater Minnesota, and Northeastern Min­nesota is no exception. Rep. Zeleznikar is on the Emergency Med­ical Services (EMS) task force and has visited communities across the state to lis­ten to the issues. One thing is for sure, we need to pivot to mean­ingful programs now.

Rep. Zeleznikar bene­fited from health occu­pations classes in high school in the 80’s. This opportunity created an interest in becoming a certified nursing assis­tant (CNA) and then a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. Rep. Zeleznikar be­lieves high school pro­grams are critical to ensure opportunities for job shadowing, curriculum, and men­toring are key compo­nents to a pipeline of employees for greater Minnesota.

“The reality is that all great ideas come from those who do the job. This was a local idea, and it was well thought out with a meaningful pathway for imple­mentation. Two Har­bors and Lake County have strong partner­ships with Lakeview Hospital, Lake Coun­ty Commissioners, Chamber of Com­merce, City Coun­cilors, Mayor, Lake County Ambulance, and Lake Superior School District. When communities work to­gether, great things happen.”

Rep. Zeleznikar is op­timistic that this idea will be funded and become a great NE Minnesota pilot project to hope­fully implement in other communities as well.

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