Gov. Walz announces $2.4M investment to extend free nursing assistant training program

(ABC 6 News) – Governor Tim Walz on Thursday announced a $2.4 million investment to continue Minnesota’s free nursing assistant training program.

The Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative provides Minnesotans with free training, books, uniforms, and covers the cost of the certification exam.

The initiative has so far recruited and trained 1,370 Minnesotans.

While the initial investment was made with Federal American Recovery Plan funds, the $2.4 million investment announced Thursday comes from the state’s COVID-19 Management Appropriation fund.

“By bolstering our health care workforce and providing pathways to life-long careers, this initiative continues to benefit Minnesotans in the short- and long-term. I’m proud to invest in a program that strengthens our health care workforce, eliminates barriers to entry into high-demand careers, and supports the health of our state,” said Governor Walz. “The success of this program is a testament to Minnesota’s ability to collaboratively address complex problems.”

According to employment data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nursing assistants are the sixth highest demand job in the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the need for qualified nursing assistants.

This initiative will help provide trained workers who will fill vacant positions at hospitals, long-term care facilities, and veterans’ homes throughout Minnesota.

In December 2021, Governor Walz set a goal for the state to recruit and train 1,000 new nursing assistants which the state surpassed in less than three months.

Achieving that goal required a public-private partnership of state agencies, higher education institutions, and long-term care providers. This work is led by Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) Commissioner Dennis Olson.

“I am incredibly proud of this initiative’s success, and look forward to continuing the work,” OHE Commissioner Dennis Olson said. “This work not only breaks down financial barriers to postsecondary education, connecting more Minnesotans with the skills they need to start a new career, it bolsters our workforce pipeline and supports the state’s healthcare industry. This initiative is truly a new model for how we can invest in workers and the economy while filling vacancies in high-need career areas.”

The new funding will allow the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative to run until February 2023.

To learn more about Governor Walz’s announcement, CLICK HERE.