These grads sport hard hats instead of caps and gowns

(Elevate Minnesota) It’s that time of year, when college and university students pack commencement ceremonies to accept their diplomas. Away from this pomp and circumstance, there is a less-visible world of graduates in our midst – a group filling well-paying, in-demand jobs, without the student loan debt and with the on-the-job-training that reinforces their chosen career path.

This season, more than 1,000 building and construction tradespeople in Minnesota are celebrating the completion of their privately funded union apprenticeship programs. These non-traditional and highly sought students completed thousands of hours of on-the-job and in-classroom training led by industry experts. These comprehensive union training programs ensure that the next generation of construction workers are able to deliver the high-quality work that contractors and builders demand and all Minnesotans rely on.

Photo of graduates from Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local Union 1 MN/ND So who is this next generation of skilled, blue collar worker? What did it take to get them to this point and how are they celebrating? We got in touch with a handful of building trades unions across the state to learn what knowledge and experience their tradesmen and tradeswomen are bringing to their employers and to the infrastructure they’re building for all of Minnesota:

Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
Bricklayers, Tile Finishers, Pointers, Cleaners, Caulkers, Terrazzo Finishers
Forty-five apprentices will continue working with the same contractor they’ve been working with through their apprenticeship program following their June 1 graduation event. Depending on the type of program, apprentices worked for two to three years, completing 4,000 to 6,000 hours on the job along with 144 hours per year of classroom training.

Ironworkers Local 512
Structural, Reinforcing, Ornamental/Architectural, Rigging & Welding and Burning
On April 28, 50 apprentices in St. Paul and Duluth celebrated the completion of their program at the Crown Plaza in Bloomington. Ninety percent of these new ironworkers are currently employed with the remaining 10 percent set to start work as construction season continues to ramp up.

IUPAT District 82
Painters, Drywall Finishers, Tilers, Glassworkers, Sign Makers
Of the 400 apprentices across the seven different programs of study, 68 graduates will begin work with a contractor with whom they’ve already started work during training, following graduation on May 25. District 82 members complete their apprenticeship with a number of certifications including OSHA 30, Ariel lift, Forklift and MSHA, among others.

Insulators Local 34
Thermal and Cooling Mechanical Insulators 
On May 3, 16 apprentices celebrated their completion of four years of classroom training and 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience.

 Twin Cities metro graduates of Roofers Local 96Roofers Local 96
Roofers, Waterproofers 
Between the Twin Cities metro and greater Minnesota, 180 trades workers have completed their requirements and are actively working in the roles they’ve been training for over the last three years. Over the course of their apprenticeship, individuals earn various certifications including OSHA 30, Rigging/Signaling, Competent Person/Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Flagging, CPR and PRO-10.

North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
Carpenters, Floor Coverers, Millwrights, Pile Drivers
NCSRCC encompasses 12 training centers across its six state region. Currently, 853 apprentices are making their way through a four-year, 7,000-work hour, 16-week classroom requirement.

Laborers District Council for MN & ND
Construction Tradesworkers, Highway & Heavy, Asbestos and Hazardous Waste, Landscaping and Commercial Cleaning
Each year in February, laborers host a celebration to honor the newest journeyworkers to become official members. With a record-breaking 333 graduates in 2016, laborers completed 288 training hours and 4,000 work hours, all of which must be completed in three years. The graduation ceremony honors each guest with a celebratory meal, highlighting stand-out individuals who showcased above-and-beyond work ethic and skill throughout their training. 

To read more about your union friends and neighbors raising the bar for us all, visit the Elevate Minnesota website.