Build My Future students. (RI photo)

The third annual “Build My Future” event is underway on the Iowa State Fairgrounds today.

Chuck Gassman, vice president of Iowa Skilled Trades, says recruiting young people into his line of work hasn’t been easy.

“Twenty-seven years ago, if we could get 10 people here to an event like this, it was a major win,” Gasman says. “Today we have over 5100 students here and I get choked up because of that. That is awesome!”

The day is designed to give students a chance to see the opportunities there are for welders, electricians, carpenters and others in the construction and manufacturing industries. More than a dozen high school students participated in a signing ceremony, pledging that they intend to work in the skilled trades after graduating from high school. Governor Kim Reynolds signed each student’s letter of intent.

Governor Reynolds greets the students. (RI photo)

“The world is your oyster, I’m telling you. There is such a need. Together you’re really helping and I think that’s what’s so great about this, too. Kids see so many other kids here who are excited and fired up about these careers, that they’re not alone in doing this, so thanks for helping us drive the momentum across the state,” Reynolds said. “…Congratulations! Let’s give these students a big round of applause. We appreciate you being here. Now we want you to stay in Iowa.”

Seventy-six Iowa high schools are working with local businesses and community colleges to set up apprenticeships for teenagers while they’re still in school, many with the promise of a full-time job after graduation.