FARGO — The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 and North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters have announced a new partnership meant to promote workforce development and education in North Dakota.

IUOE Local 49 plans to offer online learning curriculum focused on introducing high school students to a career as a heavy equipment operator in North Dakota in the coming year. In addition to students earning elective high school credit, the union training program will create an externship experience for students that will allow them to get seat time on equipment. This model is currently active in Wisconsin, will be soon in Minnesota, and has proven to be an effective way to generate interest and provide real experience that gets young people ready to be an heavy equipment operator apprentice.

The Carpenters union currently offers course work opportunities in many North Dakota high schools such as Hazen, West Fargo and Dickinson. This new partnership will expand those programs to all four corners of the state.

The Career Connections program is designed to help high school teachers introduce students to a career in carpentry. Students learn basic and intermediate carpentry, advanced skills in commercial and residential construction, and the essentials of construction site safety. The program also includes training in the employability that research shows employers value most, including goal setting, positive attitude, punctuality, teamwork, and taking initiative.

"Both unions have a long history of creating programs in conjunction with our employers that produce the best trained, highest skilled, most productive workforce in the construction industry including the utilization of classroom curriculum,” said Jason George of IUOE Local 49.

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“Workforce development is a challenge everywhere in the Midwest and our efforts plan to help close the skills gap in North Dakota to meet the demand for the next generation of workers,” added John Raines of the NCSRCC.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 represent 14,000 heavy equipment operators in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters represents 27,000 carpenters, floor coverers, industrial workers, interior systems, millwrights, and pile drivers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Learn more about the Career Connections program and how to bring the program to your school district at https://bit.ly/2WsV2yy.