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BC students begin establishing a career path through the trades

Through the Finishing Trades Program, BC high school students gain hands-on experience with the trades and get a peek into a post-graduation path other than college.

Brooklyn Center Community Schools is proud to offer a growing number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) partnerships for high schoolers. One of these partnerships is with the Finishing Trades Institute. Through the Finishing Trades Program, BC high school students gain hands-on experience with the trades and get a peek into a post-graduation path other than college.

The pilot program ran in the spring of 2023 after BC staff toured the Finishing Trades facility searching for opportunities to provide hands-on learning in the Trades in high school classes. “We recruited four students and overcame the transportation barrier for our students to attend training from 8-10 a.m. daily to explore tasks in the finishing trades such as painting, glazing, dry walling, framing and some metal work,” said Julie Gloege, BCCS teacher. “The pilot class was so successful that Finishing Trades invited us to partner with them and can have 10-12 students participate each semester this year.”

Students have an option of attending from 8-10 a.m. or 12-2 p.m. at the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest (FTIUM) in Little Canada. The program runs for one semester and students can earn 2 credits for successfully completing the program and network with companies hiring in the trades. 

At the FTIUM facility, students work with apprentices and instructors who are leading professionals in their fields. Students work on many of the same projects and activities as the apprentices. They learn to operate trade tools and machinery such as scissor lifts, forklifts, aerial lifts, and swing stages; and learn sandblasting and professional painting techniques. 

“FTIUM’s CTE program also has a robust personal finance and career readiness curriculum,” said Philip O’Neill, licensed CTE teacher at FTIUM. “We stress the importance of union labor and involvement, and have many industry leaders and politicians visit us. We also go on field trips to see plant operations and network at their facilities.”

Seniors Alphonso Kayee and Jaden Love both decided to join the program when they learned of the financial opportunities within the trades that don’t require the expense of college. “That interested me because college takes a lot of money,” said Kayee. 

Senior Jezarius Sheldon added that it provides an opportunity to learn something new, and a different career path, while giving students credits toward high school graduation.

Current Finishing Trades students all had positive encouragement to offer their peers who might be interested in joining the Finishing Trades Program.

“If you’re thinking of taking this program, I highly encourage it,” said Meya Xiong, BCS senior. “Even if you don't go into the trades, you can still use what you've learned. The instructor makes math fun, too, because it's not the type of math where you do algebra or calculus, it's more hands-on. You also won't be in the classroom most of the time. You'll be on the shop floor where you'll be working on your projects.”

“The program is a great opportunity for a lot of young people who don’t know what they want to do yet. Once you graduate and if you don’t go to college, there aren't a lot of jobs that help you make a lot of money with just a high school diploma,” said Kayee.

Sheldon noted the welcoming nature of the instructors who guide students through all of their work. “Don’t be scared. They’re very adamant about us learning from others and communicating with others. There’s someone to help you every step of the way. They’re really accepting, and they all seem super genuine.”

“Not all BCCS students want to go to college, have limited resources to pay for post-secondary education, or they learn best by hands-on training,” said Gloege. “There are opportunities for this type of training that lead to a high-paying career with benefits without acquiring debt.”

Students who are interested in participating in Finishing Trades can fill out an application during the previous semester. They are then interviewed by Finishing Trades staff. For any questions, contact Julie Gloege at