High schools are providing a gateway to careers in construction for students

Posted: May 7, 2024

Reading time: 4 minute(s)

High school career counsellors are a valuable resource for MCSC's James Murphy (pictured standing, left front). They work to build trust and engagement with students, creating open dialogue about careers in construction.

Most students, at one point or another, are asked what they want to do after graduating from high school. For most of those students, a definitive answer is hard to find.  However, that answer is becoming increasingly clear thanks to the growing opportunities in the construction trades. 

Andrew Reimer, who is a teacher and coordinator with the Red River Valley Technical Area’s High School Apprenticeship Program, couldn’t agree more. 

“There are some trades that don’t have that level of awareness as others, and that’s where the schools come in,” Reimer explained. “It’s hard to know exactly what they want to do until they get fully exposed to those career options.” 

Direction is something that many young professionals are in need of, even if they have a vague idea of where they want to take their skills. School staff are the bridge for them from education to the professional world, and play a key role in pointing those students in the right direction. 

“Career counselors act as the spark,” said MCSC Community and Youth Liaison, James Murphy. “They help direct the students to become professionals and inspire that hunger to work.” 

Perhaps the most valuable thing that can be passed on to students is the information that helps fill in the gaps in existing knowledge. If a student is interested in entering the construction industry, then the counselor can work with them to find out which aspect of that needs clarification. 

“There has to be someone to provide that base level of information to spur motivation,” Murphy said. “Then they can begin to get curious, and that’s where MCSC can work together with the schools to give them more specifics from the experts in their field.” 

What’s key in this whole process is great cooperation between these schools and organizations like MCSC, as teamwork at this stage in the process lends itself to a great way to inspire students. 

For MCSC, which already works to get industry speakers into schools to better educate students on the trades, this makes it a little more seamless for the counselor, speaker, and student. 

“MCSC can provide that expert-level insight on so many subjects,” Murphy said. “It helps ease that additional burden on the counselor and on the student. It’s a win for everyone involved.” 

Murphy also explained that this sort of meaningful partnership also works to make it easier to find summer jobs. It is a clearer stepping stone for students, which is going to reduce the stress of uncertainty. 

If a student is uncertain about whether something is the right fit for them, having both industry speakers and in-school resources immediately makes that path a little less daunting and will likely increase motivation. 

Reimer, who helps to bridge that gap, finds that process incredibly gratifying. 

“It’s so important to recognize and address the transformation that people do after high school,” Reimer said. “Maturity, life experience, all of that is something that students need help to understand.  

“Then you see these former students in the trades,” he continued. “Just looking like seasoned professionals, starting businesses, and it feels like a job has been done there, by everyone involved.” 

There is great importance in removing the knowledge barriers from students to give them a clear picture of what stands in front of them. There remain certain preexisting perceptions of set career paths, but building bridges between organizations and schools helps to clear up those questions. 

“Over time in these programs, I’ve already seen perceptions shift,” Reimer said. “I think that truly has to do with having bodies in schools from both internal and external viewpoints. Whether it’s counselors or speakers, it’s a voice of reason for many students.” 

Murphy agrees and knows that it’s best for the students to have these supports around. The involvement of career counselors in the process makes it seem to students that they don’t have to look far for help.  

“I think the career counselor role is crucial,” Murphy said. “They might be the most important person in the process in schools, and we love being able to collaborate.” 

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High schools are providing a gateway to careers in construction for students

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