Wunderkammer: A Tech and Training Exploratorium of 21st Century Job Skills at the Maplewood YMCA

Press Release: Date: July 14, 2017

From:  Ling Becker, VHEDC Executive Director (651-485-9532), Peg Thomas, Sundance Family Foundation Manager (612 822-8580)

July 18, 2017 Wunderkammer: A Tech and Training Exploratorium of 21st Century Job Skills at the Maplewood YMCA

Tuesday afternoon, July 18, 2017 1-4pm, Maplewood YMCA, 2100 White Bear Ave is the launch of the area’s first Wunderkammer: A Tech and Training Exploratorium that allows youth to engage and to explore careers with which they are not familiar. These one on one micro-mentoring sessions allow seasoned technicians to talk about their own personal excitement in their fields. Sundance Family Foundation, Vadnais Heights Community Development Corporation (VHEDC), the Maplewood YMCA, and Mcguire Insurance are sponsoring the Wunderkammer. Transportation to and from the event for both St. Paul and Minneapolis youth is provided by 360mn.org — the Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing.

Shared conversations and an afternoon of engagement gives hope and direction to youth discovering unexplored career paths and attainable livable wage jobs.  “We offer engaging, hands-on occupational exhibits that guide youth to great local opportunities, and employers to untapped employment pools,” states Nancy Jacobs, Founder, President and Executive Director of Sundance. Careers and training in Manufacturing, Trades, Emerging Tech and City Services will be featured.

A shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020 is projected for the greater Twin Cities area–yet we abound with untapped talent. Youth living in low income communities, and youth from communities of color are facing 23% unemployment even when the average unemployment for all groups is currently 3.2%. “We are finding ways to cultivate these talented youth and link their energy and resourcefulness to the businesses that make our communities vibrant,” states Ling Becker, Executive Director of the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation. “It’s up to us to change how we recruit, train, and retain workers,” says Becker.

The Wunderkammer model asks technicians to enthusiastically spark the  innate curiosity about unexplored living wage career opportunities for workforce ready youth. Work-a-day jobs are explained while the technicians and youth engage in an activity that is representational of a typical workplace skill.  This shared experience allows youth to feel welcomed. Technicians can begin to talk about their careers in production, training required and advancement opportunities to be achieved. Today’s youth have so much to bring to both manufacturing and the trades as is evident by their DIY videos, and youthful entrepreneurship. Youth will be encouraged to explore and experience. “Currently there are 800:1 eight hundred students to each guidance counselor in Minnesota public schools. Most youth just don’t know all of the exciting advanced manufacturing, information technology, healthcare and transportation careers that can be theirs with a short amount of training,” states Jacobs.  Each exhibit is staffed with experienced representatives from their field who want youth to succeed. Presenters will offer insider perspectives on how to get hired and share stories of their own personal successes.

For example, a local manufacturer Du Fresne brings 3D metal puzzles to these Wunderkammers for assembly while youth talk with their sheet metal press technicians. Tube Bending Specialists technicians help youth measure tubes using calipers to assess accuracy and quality control. Hmong American Partnership, Century College and St. Paul College demonstrate how their credential stacking opportunities can lead youth to gainful employment in a short time.


At the completion of the Wunderkammer youth are provided “lead-outs” to job, apprenticeship, internships and the essential scholarship information or next contact steps for those who are ready to move forward with a training or job application.

Participant employers and trainers include: H.B. Fuller, Bent Tubing Specialists, Du Fresne Manufacturing, Maplewood Pediatric Dentistry, FedEx, Century College, Carpenters Union, Bricklayers Union, McGough Construction, Hmong American Partnership, Maplewood Public Works, Maplewood Police Department, Maplewood Fire Department, Dunwoody Institute of Technology, Maplewood YMCA, and Real Time Talent.

Youth will be coming from: Asian Media Access, Green Garden Bakery, Elpis Enterprises, In Progress, Independent Filmmaker Project, Keystone Community Services, Urban Boatbuilders, The Lift Community Development Corp, Dream of Wild Health, Cookie Cart (Mpls and St. Paul), Cycles for Change, Centro Tyrone Guzman, Sisterhood Boutique, Triple C Cart and Catering, Brian Coyle Center, Pillsbury United Communities, Lake Center for Youth in Forest Lake,  and, BrightSide Produce.

For more information, please contact Ling Becker lingbecker@vhedc.com at 651-485-9532 or Peg Thomas peg@sundancefamilyfoundation.org at 612 822-8580.



By | 2017-08-09T10:58:05+00:00 July 15th, 2017|News|0 Comments

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