Local 49 Hosts Hands-On Heavy Equipment Training Event for High School Students Across the State

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Fall enrollment is now open for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49‘s Operating Engineers Career Pathway program, who recently hosted high school students from across the state enrolled in the program for a hands-on heavy equipment training opportunity at the Local 49 Training & Apprenticeship Center in Hinckley, MN.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 and Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) have partnered with school districts across the state to offer the Operating Engineers Career Pathway Program to high school students. The Operating Engineers Career Pathway Program gives students the opportunity to enroll in online elective courses that are designed to introduce students to the heavy equipment industry. In addition to the online elective courses, students also have the opportunity to receive hands-on experience operating equipment at the Local 49 Training Center.

“I think it’s just really important that people see that this isn’t a job that you just get stuck in. You grow, and you learn. It takes so many different ways of thinking, and it keeps your brain active all day long when working with your hands,” said Catherine Ludowese, an Operating Engineers Career Pathway Instructor.

The event was the first group of students enrolled in the program that were able to participate in the hands-on training portion of the program. In the first cohort, there were students from more than 39 counties and 66 school districts across Minnesota enrolled in the program. Of these students, an impressive 15 percent are female, representing Local 49’s efforts to increase diverse representation in the heavy equipment industry.

Fall enrollment is currently open, and there will be additional hands-on training opportunities in the 2021-2022 school year.

“My dad is a crane operator and so I want to be a crane operator when I’m older. I learned a lot through this experience, and it gave me a sense of what it would really be like to be a heavy equipment operator,” said Sage Stuber, a student enrolled in the Operating Engineers Career Pathway Program.

Local 49 receives no funding for the pathway program and began the program as an investment in our youth and future workforce. However, state lawmakers understand the significance of this opportunity and are seeking ways to offset the budgetary impacts to school districts when students enroll in the program and become a shared student.  As part of this legislative session, a bipartisan group of legislators is pursuing state funding to support programs like this. Funding proposals authored by Representatives Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) and Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls) and Senators Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids) and Eric Pratt (R-Shakopee) arestill under consideration during final budget negotiations at the Minnesota Capitol.

Enrollment is open for students across the state to participate in the Operating Engineers Pathway Program for the 2021-2022 school year. Students are not required to be full-time students at MNVA to participate and may elect to do so through their home district.

To learn more, click here to visit the Operating Engineers Career Pathway page or send any questions to Sheena Shoemaker, MNVA Career Readiness Education Assistant Coordinator, by emailing sshoemaker@k12.com. All students and families are encouraged to apply before August 30th, 2021, to ensure there is room in the program.


Check out the video below which highlights the May 22nd event