Minnesota groups push for allowing teens to work on construction sites

February 7, 2019

BATC-Housing First Minnesota and other Minnesota construction industry groups are urging state lawmakers to ease labor laws that prohibit 16- and 17-year-olds from working on construction sites, according to www.constructiondive.com. Minnesota currently allows teenagers to work in places such as health care facilities, farms and some factories.

Some Minnesota legislators have joined the construction community in support of labor laws more aligned with federal law, which is more lenient regarding minors—age 16 and older—working on construction sites. Supporters say there are many menial, safe tasks minors can perform, which could allow skilled workers to focus on their jobs and educate teens regarding career opportunities in construction. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry says the agency's commissioner could possibly expand the work minors can perform without new legislation.

The desire to train teens in the trades is growing throughout the U.S. Since Louisiana implemented its revamped Jump Start program in 2014, which allows students to gain credits and credentials in dozens of industries, the percentage of high schoolers earning career diplomas has increased from 2 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2018. Program officials want to see an increase to 40 percent. However, they also want to work on improving the percentage of career diplomas through the program that lead to high-wage jobs; currently, that number is 25 percent.