WILLMAR - A community meeting to discuss how to better educate and train Minnesota's workforce for 21st century jobs will be held Thursday afternoon in Willmar with staff from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office.

Members of the public, educators, students, business leaders and regional economic development specialists are invited to attend the meeting, which begins at 3 p.m. Thursday at Ridgewater College in Willmar.

Discussing ways to expand employment opportunities and strengthen Minnesota's workforce is linked with the bipartisan legislation Klobuchar introduced recently to give states money to create or expand tuition assistance programs that benefit participants in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.

In February, Klobuchar introduced legislation to expand the eligible uses of the 529 tax-advantaged education savings program to include training and credentialing programs that help workers develop skills.

This proposed legislation follows action in 2015 that created a $5 million grant from the Department of Labor to strengthen partnerships between Minnesota community colleges and local businesses and expand apprenticeship programs.

According to a news release from Klobuchar's office, by 2020 that grant will help more than 100 employers provide training to 1,000 apprentices in growing fields like advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, information technology, and transportation.

The meeting in Willmar is the last of six similar discussions Klobuchar's staff is conducting around the state this week.