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Mortenson Construction VP Visits MCTC Trade Students

Vice President of Mortenson Construction Visits MCTC Trade Students to Connect with Future Workforce

MCTC and Mortenson Construction forges partnershipOn a recent visit to Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), Ken Sorensen, vice president and general manager of Mortenson Construction’s Minneapolis office, toured new classroom space at the College and spoke to students of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) and Welding to discuss what his company looks for in employees (view the photo gallery).

“You’re in a good spot,” said Sorensen. “This industry is improving, as is the overall economy. If you have the key qualities of a successful worker in the industry, you will have a great career.”

Mortenson Construction is currently building the new Vikings Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. After taking bids from multiple firms nationwide, the State chose Mortenson Construction, a locally owned business also responsible for building the Target Field Twins Stadium, the TCF Bank Stadium, the Target Center and the future expansions to the Mall of America.

“The Vikings stadium, with a $763 million construction budget, is the largest project ever awarded by the State of Minnesota,” Sorensen told MCTC students. “This is a monster, and it has to move fast. We’ve got 30 months to complete the project, which breaks down to about $1 million of construction each working day. We're motivated to complete this project on time and need your help.” The new stadium will open in the summer of 2016.

The visit was intended to connect key employers in the Twin Cities community with the future workforce in trades industries. “The Vikings stadium and the work Mortenson has done in our community is a symbol of how our students can participate in a growing urban construction economy,” said Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Mike Christenson. “After students graduate from our Welding, HVACR and Electrical Construction programs, they’re equipped with the knowledge to work for a project like the Vikings Stadium. As huge as it is, the industry is growing so rapidly that the stadium will represent only a fraction of the building economy in Minneapolis.” Students in MCTC’s trades programs range from high school students pursuing PSEO credits to individuals making mid-career changes.

“There are many opportunities in this field, and students are entering at just the right time,” said Lynn Littlejohn, director of community affairs for Mortenson Construction. “Successful people in these positions express an interest in the trades, show up on time, work hard and are willing to work in the Minnesota elements. With those traits and technical skills, you can have a successful career in the industry, not just a job."

“This last February, I had a student repairing cooling equipment in minus 20 degree weather, and he didn’t quit,” said Greg Skudlarek, MCTC HVACR instructor and 2014 MnSCU Outstanding Educator. “That’s a sign he loves the work. You can’t outsource this work. Even when companies can’t build or buy new equipment, they fix what they’ve got.”

Mortenson Construction not only built much of MCTC’s newly designed workforce development classroom space—including Architectural Technology, Photography and Digital Imaging, Nursing and Welding space—but the company also incorporated MCTC students into its planning processes, using blueprint designs as teaching tools for students studying the trades.

Photo: During a visit to MCTC in 2013, Mortenson Construction Vice President Ken Sorensen met with MCTC faculty, staff and president to discuss workforce partnership opportunities. From left to right: Lynn Littlejohn (Mortenson), Tracy Boyle (MCTC faculty), Ken Sorensen (Mortenson), Lane Shoening (Mortenson), Mike Christenson (MCTC) and Tom Clark (Mortenson).