Tools For Schools Introduces High School Students To Careers In The Trades
As more and more high school students graduate and decide to go to a four-year college, skilled trade workers are needed now more than ever. The Mid-Minnesota Builders Association is working to introduce students to the trades and show the potential career paths students can take.
A study conducted last summer in Minnesota found that 73 percent of construction firms and trade employers are having a hard time filling positions.
“There’s a real shortage of talented, skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers out there, and we think getting to them early, show them that some blue-collar work is a good thing, and there are career paths,” said Ben Baratto, owner of Baratto Brothers Construction. “We’ll get them interested after high school and help out with our labor shortage.”
The Mid-Minnesota Builders Association started a program three years ago to introduce students to the possibilities outside of a traditional four-year degree.
“Our mission as a board and as a membership is to visit area high schools letting students know about different career options past high school,” said Colleen Faacks, Mid-Minnesota Builders Association Executive Officer.
“It’s our third year of doing this in schools in the area we service which is Crow Wing County, lower Cass, and part of Wadena County,” explained Ray Austin, who is on the Mid-Minnesota Business Association’s Education Committee.
Fourteen trade businesses from around the area packed the gym today at Crosby-Ironton High School for the first Tools For Schools of the year.
“There’s nothing off base that they can talk about. They are welcome to ask any types of questions. We just want them to have a little bit of a snippet on different career opportunities,” added Faacks.
Along with the event, the association donated a thousand dollars worth of tools to the the shop classes of Crosby-Ironton High School.
This is the first Tools For Schools event of the year. Two more will be held in Pillager and Pequot Lakes. The businesses ranged from construction to electrical companies, all teaching the ins and outs of what is like working in the trades.
“I think that it’s important to let kids know that there’s options beyond just the four-year college route,” said Austin. “There’s a lot of good jobs out there right now.”
Though going to a trade school after high school might not be the traditional route, those who do will learn life-long skills.
“Those are skills that might be your career, but that’s something that you can take with you. No one can take it away,” said Faacks.
“There’s been, I think, a lack of showing kids what life can be like pounding a nail or being a plumber or pulling wires,” said Austin. “There’s a lot of good lives that can be done.”
The next Tools For Schools event will be held at Pequot Lakes High School on February 26.