Over the last year, six Tribal Nations and the Minnesota Building Trades have piloted a new apprenticeship readiness program to prepare tribal members to enter the union construction industry. The first class of 15 students graduated on June 15, 2018 and many have already been accepted into full-fledged apprenticeship programs.
This 12-week course introduces students to the work of 11 different construction trades, including carpentry, sheet metal, electrical, general construction labor, plumbing & pipefitting, roofing, masonry, bricklaying, heavy equipment operation, and ironwork. Students welcomed the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with multiple crafts, allowing them to explore and find the trade best suited to their interests.
The program also incorporated tribal customs and cultural learning appropriate for the tribes involved, which included: the White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Annishinabe reservations and the Upper Sioux Dakota community. The program hired to Five Skies, LLC out of Black RiverFalls, Wisconsin, to serve the role of understanding each tribal partner’s needs.
Other partners include the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, which provided grant funding, private contractor donations, and in-kind donations from the Building Trades unions.
While this first class was a pilot program, everyone involved is optimistic about the future of the program. Click here to read more about this program.