Hands-On Exploration : Unveiling Career Paths for Iowa’s High School Students

Article by Melisa Cox Ankeny Chamber CEO/President

We had the opportunity to hear from the Iowa Director of Education, Mackenzie Snow, and the Director of Iowa Workforce Development, Beth Townsend. Both praised the students and families for making the choice to do a skilled trade for their future. They also talked about the endless number of open jobs available to people in the trades and how we need more events like Build My Future to expose students. Build my future is an annual event put on by Iowa Skilled Trades. This event features hands-on activities in the construction, medical, military and emergency services for high school students from across the state of Iowa. This year more than 7000 students came to the Iowa State Fairgrounds where they had the opportunity to try framing, welding, operate heavy equipment, emergency services, and they even were exposed to the Iowa Hall of Law. The Iowa Hall of Law is where students could explore forensic science experiments and really learn what it’s like to be a sheriff  or police force.

One of the best parts of Build My Future is the signing day event. This year 15 students were able to sign their letter of intent to go into the construction trades. Employers, friends, family, and event goers were all there to support their decision to go into the workforce following graduation.


Build My Future was designed to expose young people to all their options after high school. College is good for some but not for all. We have made great strides in educating people about the different opportunities out there but have a long way to go. Events like this help young people try something before they dive into it. Earn while you learn is a popular phrase said among the construction industry. Why not get paid while you learn a trade. So many different trade options out there and this is for everyone! We have great partnerships with our Community Colleges like DMACC and Indian Hills where they offer people of  all ages opportunities to better their future. To get more information about future events go to  www.iowaskilledtrades.com.