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DEED partners with Normandale and Polar Semiconductor on three-year MJSP Grant for workforce training

Normandale Community College and Bloomington-based semiconductor manufacturer, Polar Semiconductor jointly accepted a 3-year, $364,489 Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) training grant this past spring. The grant, awarded by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), aims to provide training in a variety of areas to Polar employees as they prepare to expand production to meet the high demand for semiconductors in the global economy.

Polar Semiconductor LLC, located in Bloomington specializes in clean room fabrication of discrete and integrated circuit devices that are used in automotive, consumer, and industrial products.

The pandemic and subsequent supply chain shocks created a large deficit in semiconductor chip production; and recent federal actions, such as the CHIPS Act, have sought to reverse this trend by expanding domestic manufacturing of semiconductors. Minnesota is one of a small number of regions in the USA that has a robust ecosystem of companies for semiconductor fabrication.

The manufacturing conditions of these precise electronic components requires both extensive training in clean room settings as well as expanded capacity at all levels of the business from operations to management. Polar has partnered with Normandale Community College to identify multiple training needs focused on the precision required for semiconductor production.

“This is an exciting time at Polar where we are really focused on talent and workforce enhancement through a number of training opportunities for current and future employees,” said Polar President and Chief Operating Office Surya Iyer. “Through these efforts, we believe we can play a role in helping reduce the risk of the chip shortages. There are a number of organizations in the state working collectively to help solve this issue a variety of ways through the Minnesota CHIPS Coalition, and we are appreciate having a great resource like Normandale Community College in Bloomington to work with us to provide training programs to enhance the skills and experiences of our employees.”

This past summer, Normandale’s campus was the site of a roundtable discussion featuring US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and members of the Minnesota CHIPS Coalition, which was formed by Great MSP in late 2022.

Normandale and Polar are both part of the Minnesota CHIPS Coalition, which is comprised of more than 35 organizations including manufacturers, supply-chain partners, education and training providers, labor organizations, and state and local governments. Both organizations had representatives who participated in the roundtable discussion with Secretary Raimondo and Sen. Klobuchar.

As part of the training in this grant, employees will be instructed in Polar’s vision for the industry to ensure that there are no gaps in understanding the strategic focus of this specialized manufacturer. In addition, training will be provided in computer fluency for working with touchscreens and typical office software and in Inclusive Excellence with topics in Intercultural Agility, Intercultural Communication, Leading Across Cultures, ESL for Manufacturing, and Semiconductor Manufacturing Terminology.

High potential employees who are seeking advancement and current leaders will also receive Professional Effectiveness training with topics in Project Management, Supervision and Management, and Lean Six Sigma.

“Normandale and Polar Semiconductor have historically played important roles in helping to contribute to the economic vibrancy of the City of Bloomington,” said Normandale Community College President Joyce Ester. “We are proud to partner with Polar during this important time where they are expanding their production efforts to make a national and international impact on the semiconductor industry. We have a long history of successful MJSP grants, and we are extremely thankful to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for helping to make this collaboration possible.”

Normandale also has a MJSP grant with Mall of America. Between the Polar Semiconductor and Mall of America grants, Normandale is involved with nearly $415,000 in MJSP grant funding for local business training.

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