Construction Careers Foundation Announces New Minnesota Trades Navigator

The Construction Careers Foundation has named Charie Gill as its new Minnesota Trades Navigator.

Gill, a social entrepreneur and Finnovation Lab Fellow, has more than 20 years of community organizing and youth mentorship experience. She previously held roles as the Director of Community Programming with the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis and served as the Work and Career Path Director of the Upper Midwest Junior Achievement Program.

“Charie Gill is charismatic, tenacious, and a great advocate for the youth we serve,” said Pat Wagner, Executive Director of the Construction Careers Foundation. “Charie has worked with diverse and underserved populations and is perceptive to youth experience and barriers they may encounter when exploring the pathway to a construction apprenticeship.”

Charie Gill’s childhood experiences motivate her to empower youth

“I was introduced to youth work at a young age,” Gill said. “I leaned into youth programming in middle school to fulfill some basic needs, find mentors and build relationships outside of my home life.”

Gill grew up in the system and said between the ages of 16 and 24 she and many of her peers — or “opportunity youth” struggled to find employment or an educational pathway.

“From an early age, I faced barriers that some of my peers did not, whether it was housing, transportation, or economic access to secondary education opportunities or job training,” Gill said. “These opportunities and skills are key factors to a person’s economic stability and especially essential when starting a career.”

Gill knows from personal experience and her decades of work with youth that opportunity youth are disproportionately youth of color, often living in low-income neighborhoods and facing important barriers to job access such as disconnections and labor market discrimination.

“I have always focused my work on opportunity youth and creating education and career pathways for highly mobile, highly impacted young adults, including those aging out of the system,” Gill said. “I use the term social entrepreneur to describe myself because I have a professional passion to develop young adults’ well-being and in doing so, I start to look at what opportunities are viable for them to obtain economic independence and success.”

Gill’s personal mission aligns with Construction Careers Foundation’s principles

Gill first learned of the Construction Careers Foundation (CCF) as a partner program to one of her previous youth organizations. She met then Trades Navigator Sam Ebute to learn about the Minnesota Trades Academy, a paid summer construction internship for opportunity youth.

“It was like a veil was lifted from my eyes and I saw a clear, attainable pathway to get more BIPOC youth introduced into the construction industry,” Gill said. “CCF programming, such as the Minnesota Trades Academy, is an economically rooted, skills-focused opportunity allotted to those who do not have much if any exposure to careers in construction.”

As Trades Navigator Gill leads with respect

“As a youth worker at heart, I know young people bring value to our conversations and work,” Gill said. “I believe in youth choice and voice. We can’t expect respect; we have to earn it — that’s how I feel when working with young people, so I use language to assert respect among young people and interns.”

Gill adds that respect is one cornerstone of building a collaborative partnership where youth participate as interns and become advocates for themselves and other BIPOC young people entering the construction industry.

“As youth prepare for the interview and apprenticeship process, I join them in conversations with the unions to serve as a broker,” Gill said. “First and foremost, I am a youth advocate and I want them to understand the career demands and benefits fully while they are making their career commitment.”

Gill works with several high schools across the state and leads Alumni programming for Minnesota Trades Academy alumni interns.

“I am dedicated to advocating for our youth. They are our future, and they will build Minnesota’s future too.”

To learn more about the role of the Trades Navigator at the Construction Careers Foundation, contact Gill at charie.gill@constructioncareers.org.