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Intro to a Career in the Building Industry

Tools for Schools


Members of the Mid-Minnesota Builders Association visit high schools located in the areas MMBA serves (Crow Wing, lower part of Cass and Wadena Counties). Tools for Schools educates high school students with career options in the building industry. Students can acquire not only basic construction information about the careers, but they also can learn about further education options, advancement options, benefits from industry experts.


The Mid-Minnesota Builder Association (MMBA) started the Tools for Schools Program in2016 to introduce students to the skilled trades, educating them about another career path that is outside of a traditional four-year degree. Students in grades 9-12 will have the opportunity to speak one on one with local businesses who discuss employment options after the student graduates from high school. The program focuses primarily on careers in the skilled trades, like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, linesman, and draftsman. Students will learn about educational requirements for jobs, along with salary and career advancement opportunities within each company. There will be a human resource representative to educate the students of soft skills, the importance of punctuality, appearance and character when applying for these jobs so the students can get a good visual of what the world is like afterschool. As a thank you for participating in the Tools for Schools Program, you will have the opportunity to let us know about tools and supplies your program could use. $1,000 is the amount each school will receive.

By — Rachel Johnson
Lakeland News Lead Reporter
Jan. 15 2019

As more and more high school students graduate and decide to go to a four-year college, skilled trade workers are needed now more than ever. The Mid-Minnesota Builders Association is working to introduce students to the trades and show the potential career paths students can take.

A study conducted last summer in Minnesota found that 73 percent of construction firms and trade employers are having a hard time filling positions.

“There’s a real shortage of talented, skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers out there, and we think getting to them early, show them that some blue-collar work is a good thing, and there are career paths,” said Ben Baratto, owner of Baratto Brothers Construction. “We’ll get them interested after high school and help out with our labor shortage.”

The Mid-Minnesota Builders Association started a program three years ago to introduce students to the possibilities outside of a traditional four-year degree.

“Our mission as a board and as a membership is to visit area high schools letting students know about different career options past high school,” said Colleen Faacks, Mid-Minnesota Builders Association Executive Officer.

“It’s our third year of doing this in schools in the area we service which is Crow Wing County, lower Cass, and part of Wadena County,” explained Ray Austin, who is on the Mid-Minnesota Business Association’s Education Committee.

Fourteen trade businesses from around the area packed the gym today at Crosby-Ironton High School for the first Tools For Schools of the year.

“There’s nothing off base that they can talk about. They are welcome to ask any types of questions. We just want them to have a little bit of a snippet on different career opportunities,” added Faacks.

Along with the event, the association donated a thousand dollars worth of tools to the the shop classes of Crosby-Ironton High School.

This is the first Tools For Schools event of the year. Two more will be held in Pillager and Pequot Lakes. The businesses ranged from construction to electrical companies, all teaching the ins and outs of what is like working in the trades.

“I think that it’s important to let kids know that there’s options beyond just the four-year college route,” said Austin. “There’s a lot of good jobs out there right now.”

Though going to a trade school after high school might not be the traditional route, those who do will learn life-long skills.

“Those are skills that might be your career, but that’s something that you can take with you. No one can take it away,” said Faacks.

“There’s been, I think, a lack of showing kids what life can be like pounding a nail or being a plumber or pulling wires,” said Austin. “There’s a lot of good lives that can be done.”

The next Tools For Schools event will be held at Pequot Lakes High School on February 26.

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