Higher ed panics as more men opt out of college for the real world
It’s no longer just a trend, but a reality. The gender gap on college campuses continues to widen, nationally and in Minnesota. This threatens the viability of the higher education…
We know that children learn and grow through play. In particular, playing with toy blocks and other construction toys stimulates creativity and sharpens cognitive skills. It also introduces kids to a possible future in the trade industry.
Equipped with 100 Lego blocks and some string, foil, and paper, elementary school students in Rochester, Minnesota recently participated in a national building block competition called the “Block Kids Building Program,” according to the Post Bulletin.
The program “introduces children to the construction industry in an effort to create awareness and promote careers in the industry.” Students also learn the trade industry is meant for both men and women. The Post Bulletin reports:
Women have worked in trade industries for decades, but employers often have trouble recruiting women and minorities. Chad Bestor, a HiMec project manager and a Blocks for Kids [Block Kids] judge, said that Minnesota statute requires a number of women and minorities to work on certain projects, such as construction of the U.S. Bank Stadium in the Twin Cities.
But the push for students to earn four-year college degrees has led to a labor shortage among the trades. Bestor said that showing how lucrative and successful a person can be from working in construction can encourage students to consider a career in the trades, especially women.
“Women are really important in our industry,” he said. “If they’re interested, then parents should try to encourage that interest. …[T]rade is just a different path to success. This event is a nice opportunity to socialize and to gauge where a student’s interest is at.”
The Blocks for Kids [Block Kids] event is open to both boys and girls. Aside from the building competition, students were also able to try their hand at a number of activity stations about plumbing, electricity and carpentry.
A study published by the Center looks at trade occupations like those mentioned above—there’s actually a section titled “Carpentry, Electricians, Plumbers”—and shows these are in-demand jobs that lead to satisfying and well-paying careers. Median-wages for construction-related trades in the Twin Cities region and Minnesota as a whole are significantly higher than the minimum wage option. And lifetime earnings exceed the expected earnings of the median bachelor’s degree holder.
This is not to say students who want to pursue a four-year degree shouldn’t. But students should also be aware of alternative routes that result in successful and well-paying careers.
It is encouraging there are programs like Block Kids peaking students’ interest in the trades and exposing them early on to the possible future careers in the construction industry.