Youth Skills Training: Program hopes to build up future workforce

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 11:36 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHISHOLM, MN (CBS 3 Duluth) - Since the pandemic took off, a workforce shortage has been building up.

Fast forward two years and businesses across the country, and here at home, continue to search for qualified employees.

In this week’s Eye On Mining, CBS 3′s Kristen Vake is drilling down the details of a unique partnership that hopes to patch up the problem.

At Minnesota Twist Drill in Chisholm, a unique project is underway.

“We have some vintage machines. Some of them are even World War II era machines, so with that, they come with World War II logic on how they operate,” said Dan Hoover, Maintenance Manager at Minnesota Twist Drill.

The goal is to get the machines back in business.

“We’ve been doing this for about seven years and we have about 150 machines and we’re a little better than halfway through right now.”

A big task that Hoover said only a small group knows how to do.

“There are three guys back here and we have about 70 years of experience between all three of us.”

Now, that knowledge is expanding to the next generation.

“It’s crazy how complex it is to build one drill bit, you know.”

That’s Zach Larsen, a senior at Hibbing High School. He’s getting experience in the shop thanks to the Youth Skills Training Program through Bluejacket Career Academies and the Minnesota Department of Labor.

“I would much rather do this than have another history class or something. It’s definitely better to get out for some of the day,” said Zach.

Hibbing Senior Ethan Trenberth agrees.

“School has never really been my favorite. I don’t really like sitting around. It’s not for me,” said Ethan. “I’ve been wanting to be a welder for a while but this really makes me want to do it. And then just learning a bunch of different things that I never thought I’d learn and getting my hands dirty.”

Getting out of the classroom and into an industry to work alongside experts in the field.

“There’s hydraulics, there’s electrical, computer programming, all sorts of stuff. So, it’s a pretty good opportunity for these kids to come to learn a little bit of everything,” said Hoover.

From automotive to healthcare to advanced manufacturing Mikal Brown, Director of Bluejacket Career Academies, said the program is beneficial not only to students but to local businesses as they continue to face a workforce shortage.

“That’s one of the conversations we have is how can we help fill those pipelines, how can we help be that person that will bring students to you and you literally get to kind of interview a student while they’re working,” said Brown.

For Ethan and Zach, that interview is going well.

“It’s a learning curve for sure but they’ve gone above and beyond just helping out and learning, asking questions, things like that,” said Hoover. “It’s almost like having a little brother type of thing here, there are jokes and things like that but at the same time we sit and have talks about life all the time and what they want to do when they graduate here and it’s nice to have a part in that with them.”

Building machines and relationships along the way.

“They’re both great kids. I love them,” said Hoover.

This program exposes students to different industries and interests but it also pays them for their time. That’s one of the requirements of Youth Skills Training.

This week we learned Minnesota Twist officially offered Zach a full-time position after graduation. They are also looking into possible tuition grants and reimbursement options if he wants to work and attend a post-secondary program.

If you’d like to learn more about how your school or business can get involved click here.

Copyright 2022 CBS 3 Duluth. All rights reserved.