Educating students for the trades
School District 88 in New Ulm, like other school districts in southwest Minnesota, has been working hard in the last few years to expand its program for students to prepare them for work in the vocational trades. We think this is highly commendable and we think the district should take Superintendent Jeff Bertrang’s recommendation to buy buildings to become the district’s trade center.
Bertrang is recommending the district purchase the former Windings building.
Education in the trades has become a growing trend in schools around the country. There is a desperate need for skilled tradespeople — carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders and masons — as the older generations of workers retire out of the building trades.
For a long time schools had focused on preparing students for four-year colleges, but for a lot of students, college may not be the best option. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a career in woodworking or electrical work. If they like what they are doing, students in the trades often find they can make a good living without the burden of four years of college loans.
The key is to let them find out if they like that kind of work, and that’s where a high school Career and Technical Education center comes in. It lets the students try a variety of trades, see what they like and what they don’t, and gives them an opportunity to pursue a career that they like.
Similar programs like Big Ideas, Inc, in New Um provide similar opportunities, giving people a chance to try out some trades and see if they want to pursue it.
Purchasing the former Windings buildings would be a great addition to the district’s CTE program.