Training for the Future through Minnesota Trades Academy
by Brenden Nickels, Senior Office Assistant at Kraus-Anderson
Internships for High School Students Interested in Working in the Trades
It’s always a fun time during the summer for high school students when school gets out in June, up to when it returns in September. During these three months, many high school students find ways to gain work experience and prepare for the future. Some get summer jobs, others take on internships to get an idea of what the working world is like. If a high school student is interested in going into the construction industry (and therefore, may work on a future Kraus-Anderson project), there’s a program that can help them do just that.
One such program is through the Minnesota Trades Academy.
The Minnesota Trades Academy
The MN Trades Academy (MTA) gives its students two “tracks” to follow:
- In Track 1, the interns spend six weeks learning about different career opportunities within and related to the building industry.
- In Track 2, the interns go to work; a nine-week apprenticeship training, pipelining into post-secondary tracts, or if they feel that they are ready, go right to work afterward. During this time, they then receive their training on the job while working on projects with construction experts.
“We have had 15 Step Up Interns enter the construction workforce since 2016,” said Sam Ebute, the MTA program’s director. “Although we do not know about all of the students who have bypassed training and gone straight to work, we are aware that at least 2 students from one of our school partners with the Multi-Core Craft Curriculum (MC3/CAP schools) went straight to work.”
Ebute also mentioned that they ask participants to give feedback after they have completed the program and that 85-90% are satisfied. The reason why it’s not 100%, according to Sarah Lechowich, Senior Director of Construction Career Pathways (overseer of the program), is because the participants want more hands-on time at a job site. However, the program has to take everyone’s safety into consideration, as well as child labor laws.
Students that participate in the program have seen the advantages of enrolling as well. Eddie Trombley, a junior at Northwest Metro 16, is one of them. “Interning with MTA gave me a great opportunity to try out different trades to see what I may be interested in the future,” said Trombley. “I knew I wanted to work in a trade before I started the internship with MTA. I was really excited to get a chance to try out a bunch of different fields. If I don’t end up in construction it will be another trade like mechanics.”
Kraus-Anderson’s Partnership with the MTA
Kraus-Anderson understands both the need to build up trades related opportunities but also how our partnership with the MTA allows students to explore possible job paths. The programs lets students work directly in that field so they can get a taste of what their future might look like.
“As a member of the MN Trades Academy Advisory Board, I cannot begin to stress the importance of the programming they provide. Exposing youth to careers in the construction trades helps to build diverse pipelines into our industry to meet future talent needs. It’s an amazing program that can inspire passionate youth, leading to a life-long career path that not only builds wealth and equity but fulfills dreams,” says Laurie Trousil, Director of Inclusion and Diversity at KA.
To enroll in the Minnesota Trades Academy, a high school student has to apply first for a Step Up internship. Step Up is a City of Minneapolis program that provides middle school, high school, and college students with internships and training to get an early start on their careers. The application period for students begins in December. If they are accepted, then in March, they will be trained in workplace skills that they may need to know. In April and May, the Step Up interns find out where they will be working during the summer, depending on what skills and interests they have. They then learn more about their employer and go visit their offices for an interview. If the interview is successful, the intern works from mid-June to mid-August.
Kraus-Anderson has participated numerous years in the Step Up program. In fact, this past summer, KA donated tools and toolboxes for the interns to have and use.
“MTA was an awesome experience that helped me strengthen my construction skills,” added Trombley. “Even if I end up working in a non-construction field, I think that the skills will help me become a better homeowner.”View Comments