On October 20, 2023, the Construction Careers Foundation partnered with Saint Paul Public Schools and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 110 to provide middle school students with fun, hands-on construction career exploration and skill building.
St. Paul, Minnesota – To celebrate Careers in Construction Month 2023, the Construction Careers Foundation (CCF), a Minneapolis-St. Paul nonprofit dedicated to helping young people discover strong careers in construction, partnered with Saint Paul Public Schools TeenVenture, a non-school day program offered by Saint Paul Public Schools that focuses on career exploration for middle school students, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 110, for an event that engaged middle school students in fun construction trade skill building and exploration.
Careers in Construction Month is a nationwide, month-long celebration that recognizes the rewarding and well-compensated career paths available in the construction trades. Recognizing October as Careers in Construction Month generates awareness for the construction industry and helps promote career opportunities to individuals who may not have otherwise been exposed to construction as a career choice.
In honor of Careers in Construction Month, IBEW Local 110 hosted 34 middle school students who learned about the electrical trades from current apprentices and journeyworkers. The day began with a presentation from union members about what a career in the electrical trades looks like. The conversation allowed students to hear real-life stories about life as a construction professional, and even begin to envision their adult selves in that role.
But it wasn’t all talk. At the event, students participated in real, hands-on learning activities. Union members facilitated activities for the students to explore basic electrical skills, such as wiring a doorbell and conduit pipe-bending. CCF also provided students with a take-home electrical circuit board kit so they can continue working on their newly acquired skills from home.
According to Laura Tracy, a journeyworker at IBEW Local 110, some students in attendance had planned on visiting a hair salon for their career exploration that day. When plans changed, those students ended up spending the morning at Local 110. Even though it wasn’t their first choice for that day’s career exploration, Tracy said, “Those students still ended up having a great time. It was great to see.”
So, why is it so important for students gain exposure to careers in the construction trades at a young age? For both Minnesota trades unions and educators who wish to empower young people to create a future that they enjoy, the answer is clear:
“Career exploration is so important in middle school because that’s when students are starting to figure out what they like and don’t like,” said Lindsay Tallman, Program Director at CCF. “This is the age where young people really start to get an idea of what is out there for them in the world. If we can introduce them to the trades early on, more students may be inspired and interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry in the future. Unions are always saying that programming needs to start younger.”
This isn’t the first time that CCF has partnered with TeenVenture. The Construction Careers Foundation (CCF) partnered with TeenVenture in April 2023, when they sent students to the Carpenters Training Institute in Saint Paul for more fun, hands-on learning. For educators or guidance counselors who seek to incorporate construction career education into their curriculum, Tracy has this advice:
“Programming such as this is so important so that young people can see there is another option besides going to college,” said Tracy. “I encourage educators to have information about careers in the construction trades available to students, especially regarding wages and what each trade has to offer.”
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 (MTA), a paid summer construction experience for high school youth, can visit the Educators Resources page on the ConstructionCareers.org website.
Visit Constructioncareers.org for more information about the apprenticeship process and the benefits of joining a union and starting an apprenticeship. We welcome educators and counselors to reach out to us on LinkedIn, and to sign-up for our e-newsletter for more stories and current events.