Providing jobs in
Building skills, building workforce
From an efficiently operating car to a warm home in the winter, Minnesotans rely on tradespeople to make sure they are safe and comfortable. But soon, this needed expertise may be hard to come by. In the coming years, 200,000 skilled tradespeople will retire in Minnesota. Replacing these jobs in areas like automative, plumbing and carpentry is imperative, but it’s not without challenge as fewer people pursue careers in trades and training can come with a hefty pricetag. To fill the gap, Fairmont High School, located in southern Minnesota, is establishing a Construction Trades Academy.
The academy offers a full suite of training opportunities, including HVAC certification and a woodshop where students build houses for Habitat for Humanity. “We want to give students the opportunity to build their skills and pursue trades careers. We’re giving students a way to enter the workforce without college debt,” says Joe Brown, superintendent of Fairmont Area Schools.
CHS, which relies on tradespeople at its 95 facilities throughout Minnesota including its processing plant in Fairmont, provided a $100,000 gift to help open the school. “The private sector and schools have to work together to build a trained workforce. It’s in the business community’s best interest,” says Brown.
“The proposed trades academy demonstrates an innovative, inclusive approach that will help students prepare for a variety of skilled trade positions,” says Tom Malecha, vice president, Global Grain & Processing operations and CHS sustainability. “CHS proudly supports many rural youth educational and leadership programs, and the Fairmont High School project aligns with our intention to work together for shared success and to strengthen our communities.”
The Construction Trades Academy joins other specialized training at the high school, including welding, automotive, agriculture and culinary arts academies. “We are a comprehensive high school, like a community college,” says Brown. “Offering our students specialized training allows them to be ready for the workforce, including necessary certifications, as soon as they graduate.”