Career Signing Day held for local graduates going into carpentry industry

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(ABC 6 News) – High school and post-secondary graduates were celebrated on Thursday for choosing their career paths in the carpentry industry.

A signing ceremony was held at the Carpenters Training Institute in southwest Rochester.

Nine graduates from Rochester Community & Technical College (RCTC), Kenyon-Wanamingo, Albert Lea and Wabasha-Kellogg were recognized for taking this more unusual post-graduate route, joining 500,000 members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union.

"It’s a surreal opportunity to have something like this for us young guys. Good benefits and stuff," graduate William Hanson said. Hanson graduated from Albert Lea High School just a few weeks ago.

Almost every industry took a hit from the pandemic, some bouncing back quicker than others. For carpenters, they said there’s definitely a need for more hands in the industry right now.

"We’ve had this big shift in the last three years of probably 30 to 40 retirees and we’re starting to replace and this is how we replace them," Rich Bakken, General Superintendent at Benike Construction, said.

The four local contractors supplying jobs to these graduates are Benike Construction, Edward Craemer & Sons Inc., Merit and Palmer Soderberg.

"There’s definitely a need for skilled help right now and so bringing them out of high school, they’re young, they’re ambitious," Nick Wille, a business representative for Rochester Carpenters Local 1382, said.

"I keep being told that there’s more detail and they always want more women because they’ll get it done a lot more efficiently and nicely," Brianna Fohrman, a graduate of RCTC’s one-year carpentry program, said.

The Carpenters Training Institute has a program for these nine graduates now where they will go through four years of classroom and on-the-job training during their apprenticeship without incurring any college debt.

"So they’ll get to learn a lot of different things whether it’s concrete work, doors and hardware, cabinetry, sheet rocking. We do it all so they’ll get a well-rounded four years," Bakken said.

The graduates said they are excited for the next chapter of their lives and are ready to contribute to the workforce.

"In the carpentry industry, they’ll learn to do things for themselves and save money at home so they all seem fairly excited," Bakken said.