Maple Grove Middle School Students Learn About Trades
When students graduate high school, many choose to go to college. On Wednesday in New Hope, labor unions gathered to show Maple Grove middle school students that there is another option after graduation.
Skilled Workers Are Needed
“The average age of a construction worker is 50 years old,” says John Slama, masonry coordinator at BAC Local 1. “I’m 52. I am on the tail end of the baby boomer generation. There are a lot of openings coming up and we need kids in all the trades of the industry.”
Skilled workers are proving to be hard to come by these days, which is why local labor unions in the Twin Cities are reaching out to kids at the middle school level.
“There are great opportunities within trade,” says Slama. “You have no college loans and you can make $60,000 right out of high school. You can have benefits including health insurance and retirement.”
Student’s Tried out 10 Different Trades
Maple Grove Middle school students had 10 different types of construction careers they learned about. Setting tile, laying brick and cement finishing were just a few of the skilled trades students got to try their hand at.
“A lot of students haven’t ever really worked with tools like this before,” says Maple Grove middle school teacher Mark Bruemmer. “They would never know if skilled trade is something they are interested in. I believe that the exposure to all different types of work trades like this and any other types of work is really important.”
This is the first time students have worked with labor professionals in person to learn more about their trades. The educational experience skilled is one workers hope will encourage students to explore all their options before heading straight to college
“I hope what the kids leave here with today is that this is something that they like to do,” added Slama. “I hope they learn they like working with their hands, and they can see how fun it can be. Also, that they understand there is a career path they can take that isn’t necessarily the norm currently.”
A recent labor survey showed an overwhelming majority of construction firms are having a hard time hiring qualified workers. It has prompted many firms to raise wages and improve benefits.