Minnesota’s trade unions, construction companies and DEED fund statewide effort – Construction Career Pathways – to attract a new generation into Minnesota’s building and construction trades.
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, Minn. – For the graduating class of 2020, the future is looking brighter — especially if you’re a student who questions whether college or the military is right for you.
That’s because there’s a third option: a career in Minnesota’s building and construction trades.
Minnesota’s building trades unions, construction companies and the State of Minnesota have teamed up to get the word out to Minnesota’s high school students about good-paying, highly satisfying careers in the construction trades.
At the center of their efforts is ConstructionCareers.org, a website that introduces high school students to 30 different career options in Minnesota’s building and construction trades.
“Most Minnesota students feel pressured by their parents, teachers and peers to enter a four-year college or university after high school,” said Sarah Lechowich, Senior Director with the Construction Careers Foundation, a St. Paul nonprofit that oversees the Construction Career Pathways initiative. “But some enjoy learning through doing and can’t see themselves in college. That’s where we come in – to introduce the idea that you can be a success and make good money while working with your hands as an electrician, plumber or ironworker.”
In addition to providing career information, students who are at least 18 years old and have earned their high school degree or GED can begin the application process through ConstructionCareers.org for an apprenticeship in the building and construction trades.
Lechowich said apprenticeships offered by Minnesota’s trade unions and their contractors are typically multi-year programs where an apprentice works with a journeyperson to learn a specific craft and skill set, such as pipefitting or operating heavy equipment. Once accepted, an apprentice immediately earns a paycheck while learning. In addition to incurring no college debt, building trade apprentices also obtain healthcare and dental insurance and are enrolled in a union pension plan.
As an introduction, during the school year, high school students can learn about construction careers through hands-on opportunities sponsored by Construction Career Pathways, including:
- Construct Tomorrow – Regional events for high school students to meet real-life construction workers. View upcoming events at: https://constructtomorrow.org
- Construction Apprenticeship Preparation (CAP) – Courses offered at many Minnesota high schools where students learn about construction through hands-on building projects.
- Minnesota Trades Academy – A paid summer internship program where students learn about construction through small group building projects.
- Learn2Build – Year-round events at selected schools where middle school students are introduced to the building and construction trades through hands-on projects.
Minnesota Needs Gen Z Construction Workers
The ultimate goal of Construction Career Pathways is to help fuel Minnesota’s construction industry with the talent it will need in the decades ahead.
As Baby Boomer and Gen X building trades professionals retire over the next two decades, skilled professional workers will be needed to build and maintain Minnesota’s office buildings, data warehouses, shopping centers, restaurants, wind and solar farms, schools, hospitals, roads, and homes.
To help students better understand why they should consider a career in construction, ConstructionCareers.org offers stories and videos of real-life construction workers who share why they chose a career in construction and the process they took to get into the building and construction trades industry.
“We want all students to learn about careers in construction from real people who look like them and come from the same communities as them,” Lechowich said. “We want them to see that if you have an interest in working with your hands, you are wanted in Minnesota’s construction trades.”
Educating Parents and Teachers, Too
ConstructionCareers.org also is a tool to help parents of high school students, high school teachers, guidance counselors and principals better understand apprenticeship opportunities and the positive benefits of a career in the construction trades.
“We see parents and teachers who are searching for answers, too,” Lechowhich said. “They see the high costs of college and they also see students who look more happy at building things than studying in a classroom. Our website and programs can provide the information they need to better answer career questions for their students.”
For further information, contact: Stephen Dupont