Minnesota’s Economic News — W/E 9/24/21
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With the worker shortage problem expected to explode from the current 60,000 unfilled jobs to as many as 280,000 by the end of 2022, sufficient improvements to Minnesota’s talent development pipeline are a must.
Baby Boomers with in-demand technical skills are retiring, and few young people have the skills or interest to take their places. But efforts are underway through the Construct Tomorrow program to solve our state’s workforce crisis and get students excited about a future in building and construction trades.
The Construct Tomorrow program provides students information about apprenticeship career training and opportunities in the construction industry.
The Construct Tomorrow team brings representatives from multiple trades … and provides hands-on experiences for the students who get to work side-by-side with apprentices and journey-level workers to wire circuits, trowel cement, set tile and more. At the conclusion of the event, the students participate in an exit survey to gauge their level of interest in the trades. The Construct Tomorrow team endeavors to connect these students with more information and experiences to help create a pathway into apprenticeship.
Hands-on experiences are a practical way for students to explore skilled trades and get a real feel for whether a career in this field is the right fit. “Experiential learning shows students they get to work with both their hands and their minds,” said Dave Adney of the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). I had the pleasure of talking with Dave a couple weeks ago and found out MASSP partners with Construct Tomorrow to host statewide trade career fairs for students. Students can also access software that connects them to careers aligned with their interests.
“Once students learn there are alternatives to the college default, they are eager to explore these possibilities,” Adney added. “Parents take the most convincing.”
To counter the negative image generally associated with construction and other similar fields, we must drop the outdated language of “vocational” education and show how career and technical education expands possibilities instead of limits them. The Center’s “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project aims to show students and parents the world of career and technical education has transformed from merely a “second-class” option to a “first-class” pathway to prosperity. We are excited about the work Construct Tomorrow is also doing to help change this narrative.