It was the most impressive gathering of young people interested in joining the trades that I have seen in quite some time. Iowa Skilled Trades (www.iowaskilledtrades.com), in conjunction with Home Builders Association of Des Moines (www.dsmhba.com) and the Skilled Trades Academy at Central Campus Des Moines Public Schools (https://centralcampus.dmschools.org/skilled-trades/), organized the very successful Iowa Build My Future event.
Held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the third such event held live since its inception, Iowa Build My Future far surpassed any past events with more than 5,000 middle school, high school and other students—from more than 120 schools from across the state of Iowa—bussed in to take part of this career day, industry showcase and hands-on trades expo held April 13.
“The goal is to have the students get their hands on things they’ve never done before. Maybe they don’t have shop class, maybe they’ve never understood of any careers in manufacturing. We are letting them have a hands-on experience with these different careers,” says Brandon Patterson, workforce development, HBA of Greater Des Moines, the driving force behind the event.
Those different careers include plumbing, HVAC, electrical, carpentry, masonry, welding, and more. Housed inside and out, hands-on activities included soldering, roofing, welding and jobsite excavator demos, rope climbing with harnesses, and much, much more.
During the show, there was a Letter of Intent signing, indicating that students intended to enter the trades after high school. “We are actually going to do a signing day for kids that are going into the skilled trades industry, most likely construction. We want to showcase these kids and show them what it’s all about,” says Patterson.
The letter also was co-signed by Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, who was in attendance for the Build My Future event. “I want to congratulate the students here today for taking the initiative to jump start your careers in apprenticeships that gives you an advantage; it gives you hands-on experience, a chance to earn while you learn, and it’s exciting,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds continued, “I’m excited about the growth in Iowa’s registered apprenticeship programs. In 2021, we received 181 new programs in our state, the most ever in a single year and it puts Iowa as the national leader … we are going to continue to work with the kids, business, construction and the trades and we are going to transform the state of Iowa.”
The letter signing was supported by RIDGID, Pfister, Iowa Skilled Trades and American Plumber Stories, and some key swag was given away at that time.
The Build My Future event left quite an impression on those attending, especially Mechanical Hub’s Eric Aune. “I wish I had something like this when I was in high school,” says Aune.
Prior to the Build My Future event, Mechanical hub was treated to a tour of the Skilled Trades Academy at the Central Campus in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Tour guides Dan Knoup, executive officer, HBA of Greater Des Moines and Gary Scrutchfield, Lumberman’s Drywall & Roofing Supply, who are both active with the Skilled Trades Academy.
The Academy is open to 42 school districts and offers 89 various program courses from agriculture to electrical to plumbing to automotive to carpentry to marine biology. Yes, marine biology. High school students are transported there for a minimum of 90 minutes per visit to get them educationally on the right trade track.
Central Campus complements and extends the programs of Central Iowa Schools, offering unique academic and career opportunities that direct, inspire, and motivate a diverse group of students.
Located at the heart of the model district for urban education, Central Campus offers hands on, real world work-based educational programs to a highly diverse community and surrounding areas. One of our greatest strengths is the friendships and networking of students from diverse backgrounds and communities. Des Moines Public Schools dedicates itself to excelling at unique and technologically advanced opportunities for all learners. Central Campus commits itself to providing equal access and prospects through rigorous academic and career training experiences for all.
Fun fact: the building was an assembly plant for Ford’s Model T.