Rep. Regina Barr (Inver Grove Heights) is the chief author of HF 3810, a bill that would appropriate money to Project Build Minnesota in order to promote career opportunities in the construction industry. She discussed how she has personal ties to the construction industry and why she is leading the charge to advance the cause.
Q: The Minnesota construction industry is reporting a workforce crisis. In your opinion, how can the state address this issue and why is it important for the state to act?
Rep. Barr: Minnesota’s workforce in the trades are aging and we have a huge and growing workforce crunch in them, so private entities are fighting over the limited number of new prospective candidates into these skilled trades. Over the last few years we’ve done lots of things to help businesses train new workers with relevant skills in the trades, and Project Build would be another. I am proud to help carry this initiative forward. It will help young Minnesotans receive early exposure to the industry, and get good paying, rewarding jobs while also helping an important industry fill key openings.
Q: Could you speak about your brothers’ experiences working in the construction industry and how they’ve been successful? Why should other students consider the construction industry?
Rep. Barr: I grew up with three brothers who were smart and bright. Unlike me, they weren’t interested in going to college or working in a traditional office job. Luckily for my brothers there were programs in high school that allowed them to learn the skills necessary to enter into various technical fields right out of high school. One of my brothers worked painting bridges, then as a mason and eventually owned his own construction firm. He now teaches masonry and construction.
Students that work in the construction field will have many options to use their skills across a broad spectrum of jobs whether in the field on a construction site or in the corporate office as a project manager or a marketing manager.
Q: How can Minnesota compete with other states for labor?
Rep. Barr: Minnesota is a great place to live, work and raise a family. In order to compete for labor, we need to ensure that we keep taxes low for both families and businesses, invest in educating students interested in a broad range of careers including those in the trades and ensure that we make it easy to do business across the state by avoiding or removing legislation that limits a company from adding capacity and creating new jobs.