Electrical Training for North Minneapolis

Submitted by Michelle Dreier, Member Engagemt/Gov't Affairs Manager

We’ve gone from a large section of individuals on unemployment during the pandemic, to a workforce shortage…again.

Most electrical contractors worked through the pandemic, and the skill shortage never went away. There is a lack of journeyworker electricians available for hire.

Finding good talent is difficult and some individuals have stepped forward to provide training to communities that haven’t had strong participation rates in the construction industry.

Jamez Staples
grew up in North Minneapolis. He has made the choice to stay in the community after returning from the Virgin Islands where he learned how to install solar panels.

In 2014, Jamez started his own business, Renewable Energy Partners.

For years Jamez has had a dream to create a clean energy training center in his community to help train local youth for jobs in the emerging green energy economy.

In 2017, he acquired a former state workforce center building in the north Minneapolis neighborhood. It is a butler building so it can be easily configured to meet the needs of the training center. The Center is seeking to develop a working/advisory group to help inform programs and build the best space. Jamez installed solar, EV charging stations, battery storage, heat pumps, and storm water management solutions at the site.

The populations served in Near North are 50% Black, and 30% live below the poverty line. A larger percentage in this community are unemployed, and those that are employed are often underemployed. Imagine being employed but only earning $15,000/year. Working with students from alternative learning programs will help to break this cycle of poverty and provide a new population of talent that is better prepared to enter into electrical apprenticeships.

The Center’s focus is on under-represented communities of color, improving graduation rates, addressing disparities in household income, and increasing the diversity in construction/technical trades. The Electrical Association assisted in securing $2.5 million in RDA funds at the legislature to help make this dream a reality!

Public schools have cut back on shop classes available to students, and many of these students do not know someone from the construction industry. The North Minneapolis Clean Energy Training Center will provide that missing mentorship and credentialed training.

Training will include electrical-related skills in renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced energy technologies such as energy storage, microgrids, and electric vehicles charging stations.

Our Association will provide access to graduates from this program when it is up and running. Many participants will want to enter into electrical apprenticeships. The program will also provide links to higher education for 2- and 4-year degrees, and alignment with local, state and national goals for clean energy transition.

Let us know how the Electrical Association can best help your business navigate change.
(612) 827-6117