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News & Press: MPMA News

Workforce Wednesday: Department of Labor Addresses Manufacturer’s Concerns

Wednesday, February 8, 2017  
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After hearing from employers who are having trouble navigating the waiver process for students seeking job-site work experience, the Minnesota Department of Labor (DLI) met with MPMA members last week to discuss a more streamlined approach to granting exceptions for student workers.

DLI representatives framed the possible modifications as “stepping stones” to creating stronger youth training programs, in line with the youth workforce changes proposed in MPMA’s legislation (Click here to link to SF 474).

 Exemptions for student learners are currently only granted by waiver on a case-by-case basis, and the process to get a waiver is complicated and confusing. Deputy Commissioner Jessica Looman explained that DLI is working to put in place a framework that provides a “process, not a practice” for helping students obtain employment training at manufacturing businesses.


Highlights of the proposed changes include:

  • Providing a list of equipment commonly used in manufacturing that explains when minors may use the equipment.
  • Defining “student learner” as a student who is 16 years or older, and enrolled in a program to receive academic credit and employment training in a school-work training program.

School-work training agreements would be required between the employer and the school, and approval would need to be granted by an appropriate agency, but the proposed new process would be more streamlined. Employers will need to continue to adhere to occupational hazard and child labor law standards, provide supervision, safety instruction, and a schedule of organized and progressive work to be performed on the job.

MPMA Lobbyist Amy Walstien said that this a positive step forward for employers because the process for obtaining permission for student learners to work in manufacturing facilities will be more clear and user-friendly.  The new process aligns well with the youth skills training program that is at the center of MPMA’s legislative efforts this session.