The Construction Careers Foundation and the MN Mechanical Contractors Association join together as partners to eliminate barriers for young people looking to enter the construction trades.
Saint Paul, Minnesota – The construction industry relies heavily on one’s ability to get themselves to and from a worksite.
However, although transportation is an essential part of working in the trades, having access to it is a different story.
According to Matthew Marquis, secretary and board member at the Construction Careers Foundation and assistant vice president at the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association (MMCA), many young people seeking apprenticeships do not have a driver’s license. Without a driver’s license, workers face the difficulty of finding transportation to work that may result in them being late or removed from a job. Due to limited access to driver’s education, financial complications, or a lack of awareness, many people are faced with the challenge of receiving the resources needed to obtain a driver’s license.
The Construction Careers Foundation (CCF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the diversity of entrants into the construction trades and foster long-term construction careers. CCF is constantly seeking ways to get more young people exposed to careers in construction. One way the organization accomplishes this is through its program the Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA), a summer internship program that supports CCF’s mission by offering paid, summer construction internship experience for selected high school youth.
CCF recognizes the importance of transportation as a viable and necessary part of having a construction career. Through a partnership with MMCA, CCF is able to provide free driver’s education for those who need it. Together, they are eliminating the obstacles that stand in the way of young people and their futures.
MMCA represents more than 120 union contractors across the state of Minnesota. The organization provides labor relations services, legislative representation, and robust educational opportunities.
CCF worked with A+ Driving School to conduct the program. The A+ Driving School is a local Minnesota company dedicated to helping their students become responsible and safe drivers. Driving is arguably one of the most important, yet dangerous skills someone can learn. It’s essential that young adults receive proper driving education in order to safely and efficiently transport themselves to worksites.
“Driver’s education is an important thing for everybody to know, no matter their age,” said Pete Hosmer, Owner of the A+ Driving School. “Knowing the rules of the road is so important. There are a lot of resources out there, like the A+ Driving School, for people that want and need the education.”
When theory meets practice, things just click. CCF works hard to expose Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA) interns to opportunities that encourage the application of classroom knowledge to the construction trades. Interns will spend the day at a union learning the inner workings of a specific trade and applying the basics to a real-life situation. Similarly, the A+ Driving School stresses the theory of driving before putting a student behind the wheel.
This summer, there are 23 MTA interns between the ages of 15 to 19 attending the A+ Driving School. MTA provides this opportunity to their interns to ensure that they can receive this education complication free.
“It’s all a part of our outreach efforts. CCF has a large network into high schools, and when you’re looking at the community that you serve and start hearing back from people in the construction fields saying ‘Hey, people out here don’t have their licenses’ – how do you then get them access to that opportunity?” said Marquis. “Whether it’s a financial issue or an accessibility issue, we’re trying to cut out some of those barriers and help these kids get the education they need for success in their careers.”
Driving is a lot more complex than turning a key and hitting the road. For 10 days between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., students take up to 30 hours of classroom instruction that will prepare them for their permit tests at a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The theory behind who has the right of way, when and where to stop a car, and what lanes are acceptable to turn in is the difference between safely getting behind the wheel and preventing a car accident.
“A basis for avoiding car accidents is having all the book knowledge and theory of understanding what a safe driver looks like. What we do in those two weeks of instruction is get the students ready for the written permit test. Then, once they have their permit, they can start driving and doing behind the wheel lessons. The progression of giving them knowledge and then actually getting them out on the road is what’s most important,” said Hosmer.
MTA interns are not only gaining the education they need to succeed on their driver’s tests, but they are also learning theory that allows them to apply driving skills to a construction worksite. The A+ Driving School is teaching interns to think beyond the box of standard driving, challenging them to ask questions regarding hauling equipment, how to drive safely in a work zone, and knowing how to properly manage time so they don’t feel pressured to speed on their way to work.
In other words, learning how to drive a car may be just the first step toward a young person learning how to drive a heavy-duty truck or operating larger, and more complicated, construction equipment. Learning to drive is not just a means of getting to a construction site, it truly offers a door to more opportunities to a successful career within the construction trades, while reinforcing a safety mindset.
“Employers are looking to hire people who not only have a license, but they are also looking for trustworthy people who can drive one of their company vehicles with their insurance coverage,” said Hosmer. “Our goal is just to work with them to help them pass the tests and be the safest driver that they can be.”
Educators seeking guidance in informing their students about a career in construction, or hoping to pass along the opportunity to join the Minnesota Trades Academy, can visit the Educator Resources page on ConstructionCareers.org.
For more resources regarding a career in construction, visit www.ConstructionCareers.org.
For more stories similar to this one, view the Construction Careers Foundation Success Stories page.