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18 High Schools, 500 Students Participate in MN Building Trades’ Apprenticeship Outreach Event

(pic by Kimm Anderson, SC Times)

(pic by Kimm Anderson, SC Times)

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The Central Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council (CMBCTC), along with Twin Cities-based Construct Tomorrow, held an all-day event at which high school students were introduced to the various trades and apprenticeships available to them upon graduation.  Nearly 500 students from 18 area high schools attended the event, which was held at the River’s Edge Convention Center. 

CMBCTC President Michael Ganz explained to The SC Times that Construct Tomorrow allows high school students to explore union apprenticeships as an alternative to college and military service.  Ganz said that most of the apprenticeships last 3 to 6 years and that those who pursue them earn solid wages while they learn their craft.  The programs are well-funded, meet strict standards, and lead to middle class careers, he said, adding: “Everything is state regulated and state approved.  The Department of Education tells us how many hours (of instruction) they need.”

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry staffer Mary DesJarlais was in attendance. She said the program and event were necessary to ready the state’s workforce for the retirement of the baby boomer generation:

“We need to find the next generation of workers.  A lot of high schools, especially in the metro areas, have no shop classes. These kids have no exposure to tools. We want kids to have the mindset of doing something with their hands.”

Each student was given a “passport” by Construct Tomorrow which was stamped after they visited with representatives of each industry.  Students were able to ask questions about wages, apprenticeship standards, benefits, and job duties.  At some of the stations students were able to get a quick hands-on primer on basic skills needed for each trade, such as bricklaying, spray painting, and electrical wiring.  

As President Ganz told WJON AM, the unique thing here is some of the trades is not what the kids envision, so within the trade union there is different classifications of the work.”

Ganz said that he hoped the event would become an annual affair and that it would help high school students make sense of their life after graduation. “We are not competing with the colleges or the military,” Ganz said. “We want students to see that they have another alternative.”


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