DES MOINES, IOWA — A total of 5,100 students from across the state traveled with their high schools to the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Wednesday morning to see what skilled trade jobs could offer them.

The “Build My Future” event was back in Iowa with 125 vendors that help students connect with potential apprenticeship programs, and give them an idea of the different opportunities in the industry.

“It gives you a hands-on experience at the chance to earn while you learn,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Reynolds was in attendance, walking around and greeting those who showed up. With the workforce shortage in the state she reiterated that these types of events get students the ability to connect with employers.

“You can see so many other kids here too that are so fired up and excited about these careers and that they are not alone in doing this,” Reynolds said. “In 2021 we received in 181 new (apprenticeship) programs in our state, the most ever in a single year.”

Students too were impressed with the crowd that turned out and all the activities that they were able to take part in.

“I mean it is a pretty big deal I didn’t think that this many kids were interested in trade,” said Mateo Mauguia, a sophomore at Johnston high school.

From driving around construction equipment to practice welding; students had the taste of a hands on experience at the skilled trade show.

“Most people they are either like they don’t really want to go to college so they are kind of thinking trades but there are so many trades out there to go into so no one knows what to do,” said Tyler Behut, a senior at Johnston high school. “So coming here would be a great experience for them.”

Behut mentioned that he had a job lined up in carpentry due to programs that his school district made available to him; and it means the world to him that once he graduates he can go straight into the workforce. He hopes that other students take advantage of similar opportunities.

“I just hope that this stays around for a long time so kids in high school can learn about many different trades,” said Behut.