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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Pick up a hammer? MN apprentices say, 'Why not?'

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024   

It's graduation season, and in Minnesota, it's not just high schools and universities sending off waves of students. Organizers say they're seeing a lot of people complete apprenticeship training for careers in the construction trades.

Building Strong Communities is a statewide apprenticeship program that prepares future construction workers over a 12-week period. At its spring graduation at North Hennepin Community College, 105 men and women received their certificates.

Rick Martagon, executive director of Building Strong Communities, said that's up 41% from last year, which coincides with a growth in a more diverse group of apprentices, including older students.

"And a lot of people are making a career change as adults who have been in the workforce for quite a while. And they're interested in doing something else, and they look at the opportunities within the building construction trades and are making that change," he explained.

He thinks there's been a more intentional effort to recruit the next generation of workers in the trades, who might have concerns that the work is harder or not as lucrative as technology jobs. Martagon said starting wages are strong and earned credentials can be used all over the country. National forecasts show an overwhelming need for skilled trade workers with the renewed push for housing construction.

Analysts say the industry needs to move even faster with recruitment, as many construction workers retire. Martagon says the good news is, demand is strong for solid-paying jobs, making their outreach a little easier.

"We're in a good place right now as we see growth in retirements and a good economy, investment in infrastructure," Martagon continued.

Federal programs, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, are spurring projects, including construction related to clean energy. Building Strong Communities is supported by unions around Minnesota and state grants. Leaders say a strong component is that it starts with virtual classes before hands-on training, and participants are given a true sense of what it's like to perform this work - helping them decide whether to continue.


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