Minnesota construction professionals shape the world around us. They build our homes, the office buildings, warehouses and industrial plants where we work. They maintain our energy infrastructure. They build the sports stadiums where our favorite college and pro teams play. They build the stores we shop in, the schools where we learn, and the hospitals where we go to be healed.
But oftentimes, we forget about the impact construction professionals have on our day-to-day lives. The next time you walk through a building, or cross a street, take time to consider the skills and knowledge that went into building all of the things we depend upon.
“Most skilled craft professionals work behind the scenes, constructing our world, so they are often go unseen” said Sarah Lechowich, senior director of the Construction Careers Foundation, a Twin Cities nonprofit that oversees the Construction Careers Pathway, a statewide initiative to make young people throughout Minnesota more aware of careers in Minnesota’s construction industry.
“ConstructionCareers.org website and middle school programs such as Learn2Build give young people a glimpse into the world of construction and the roles these professionals play in our lives,” Lechowich added.
Here are 8 reasons to appreciate Minnesota’s 70,000+ union construction professionals:
1. Creating places to live
Construction professionals build the homes we live in – single-family homes, apartment buildings, and condos. Multiple trades are involved in building shelter, from the carpenters who frame the roof, the floors and walls and masons pouring the concrete to electricians and plumbers installing the electrical and plumbing systems to make them functional.
Whenever you wake up at home, know that it took dozens of craft professionals to make that space liveable, comfortable and safe for you. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we have benefitted from, and had direct contact with the construction industry.
2. Plumbing and running water
Count how many times you turn on the faucet, run the shower, do a load of laundry or flush the toilet. You probably have never counted this before — and that’s because you expect these things to work.
Without thinking, you use a complicated system that has been created and maintained by plumbers, like those from St. Cloud Plumbers Local 15. Not only do they make sure homes and the buildings in which we work have access to water, but they are also always on call to fix problems as they arise. Being a plumber is a job that requires a vast knowledge of tools, customer service experience and the ability to work in cramped or confined areas.
3. Hospitals, schools and retirement communities
Without skilled union construction professionals, the buildings we rely on in emergencies, for our education and to visit our loved ones would be obsolete.
Did you know that hospitals, being critical buildings that house a lot of important information, often require more complex and efficient electrical wiring?
Union construction professionals study blueprints and map out layouts when doing electrical work on hospitals and clinics.
Schools, which millions of children across the country rely upon daily, and retirement homes, which house the elderly and important machinery, are also all built by skilled union labor.
Without our trained and dedicated construction professionals, there would be no one with the knowledge to safely build and maintain these important structures.
4. Roads and bridges for travel
When you travel by car, bus or even bicycle you are using a complex road system that was designed by civil engineers, executed by construction teams and built by skilled union construction professionals, such as the members of Minnesota’s Local 49, the union that represents heavy-equipment operators and laborers from LiUNA! Local 563.
5. Air conditioning, heating and venting
A world without air conditioning and heating — well it would be quite steamy in the summer and bitterly cold during Minnesota winters.
Minnesota homes, apartments and buildings come equipped with working AC and heat. Thanks to HVAC professionals from Sheet Metal Workers Local 10, Minnesotans can enjoy comfortable temperatures indoors, regardless of what the weather is like outside. With Minnesota construction professionals, we all can enjoy the comforts of regulated air temperature.
6. Power and light
Like AC, electricity is something that is often taken for granted. Without electricians, like those from Local 242 in Duluth, homes would not have light, refrigerators, televisions, coffee makers and so much more. People rely on electricity every single day to function.
Boilermakers, laborers, electricians, pipefitters, work together to help build and maintain Minnesota’s diverse mix of electrical infrastructure – coal and natural gas power plants, wind farms, solar farms, hydro-electric dams, electrical grids – which are all needed to generate electricity and deliver power to consumers and businesses.
7. Helping Minnesota transition to clean energy
As Minnesota invests in clean energy, Minnesota’s construction industry is leading the way in making the transition from legacy power generation to carbon-free power.
Construction careers in these key specialties are expected to grow in demand over the next 15 years, and in turn, so will the prevalence of solar and wind farms, as well as new energy alternatives such as hydrogen power. Until then, Minnesota’s union construction professionals will lead the way in maintaining and transitioning Minnesota’s coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants to a carbon-free world.
8. Construction professionals spend years perfecting their craft
Every time a craft professional fixes a leak, an AC unit or the electrical wiring in your home – they are applying years of expertise to help you. For individuals to become fully trained as a craft professional, they must go through an apprenticeship process that takes three to five years. During these years spent in the classroom, apprentices study and apply their math and science skills and shadow mentors in the field while learning on the job.
Think back on today, how many times have you enjoyed something that a craft professional built? Who made your house? How often do you use electricity? Did you drive on a road?
We have so much to thank the construction industry and its workers for.
They are building the world around us and you can join them. Visit ConstructionCareers.org for more information about the apprenticeship process and the benefits of joining a union and starting an apprenticeship. Also resource the Careers page to learn more about the 30+ careers in Minnesota’s construction industry.