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New expo hopes to build up trades in the 218

EVELETH, MN — Building projects and a workforce.

That’s the focus in the skilled trades industry in northeastern Minnesota.
In the next decade, the region is expected to have more demand for jobs.

In fact, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the construction industry is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs in the next decade.

To try and get ahead of the shortage, businesses, unions, and education institutions are joining forces hoping to build up the next generation of trades in the 218.

“We desperately need people to consider this as a career option,” said Heath Boe, Rural Workforce Coordinator for the Northeast MN Office of Job Training. “There are good jobs that are good careers in the building and construction trades.”

Nearly 600 students and a lot of opportunities.

From learning to set bricks to carpentry skills, to running small scale heavy equipment students at the 218 Trades Career Expo tried their hands at what it takes to join the industry.

“It doesn’t require a four-year degree, you don’t have a whole lot of debt to try and do this job, you can earn as you learn, so there’s that option too of being an apprentice, and so we really want to get that awareness out there,” said Boe.

Businesses like Ulland Brothers Construction are feeling the impact.

“It’s a diminishing resource and we’re all out there competing for the same talent,” said Dave Debevec, HR and Safety Director at Ulland Brothers.

The company now has to put more focus on recruiting than ever before.

“In the past, there were ten folks probably available for every job opening and now you’re less than one so we’re definitely trying harder and spending more resources to find good quality talent,” said Debevec.

Introducing students to the world of building and construction jobs includes the advancements in technology that are shaping the way work is done.

“We’re using our drones and other technologies. Equipment is very sophisticated so somebody needs to have good math skills, make good decisions,” said Debevec.

As the industry continues to thrive, Debevec said they hope students walk away with a better understanding of what it looks like and if it’s a good fit for them.

“Construction is a great career. There’s an opportunity. We’re gonna grow, construction is growing and they need to look at it not just as a job but as a career.”

If you weren’t able to make it to Tuesday’s event in Eveleth, no worries.
There will be plenty more to come over the next year.

You can learn more about 218 Trades here.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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