High School Students Visit Met Council
About 80 high school students from Apple Valley, Rosemount and Park-Cottage Grove high schools visited the Metropolitan Council in March thanks to a partnership between the council and the Tazel Institute.
Leon Tazel of the Tazel Institute is determined to expose African American male youth to job possibilities they might not know about and the Met Council is working to attract and build its future workforce
The students toured the Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant, the East Metro Bus Garage, and the Green Line Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility, where they learned about the skills needed to perform many different jobs. They finished with a lunch hosted by Metro Transit.
“This is a passion of mine,” said Tazel, vice president and senior manager of employee relations at TCF Bank. “By seeing successful African American males, it helps the students believe that they can be successful, too.”
Regardless of their economic circumstances, African American male youth go through the same challenges in adolescence, Tazel said. One of those challenges is how education is brought to them – they learn about the world in theory but not in practice. So he established the Tazel Institute to organize visits to workplaces where they can see what is possible after graduation.
In a little more than a year, students have visited a law firm, a bank, a county attorney’s office, a university, a construction company, and more. The institute also gives them other opportunities, such as taking a financial literacy course that offers certification for completion.
“We greatly appreciate that the Tazel Institute brought a large group of potential future workers to our work sites while they are at an impressionable age, and that we could showcase some of the careers available here at the council,” said Cedrick Baker, manager of equity implementation in the council’s Office of Equal Opportunity.
“Many of these careers are not obvious for most high school age youth.”
Two of the major disparity measures in the region are around employment and household income, Baker said. Over the coming year, OEO also will be engaging specific youth organizations to increase youth exposure to the council as a future employer, including Southeast Asian, Latino, and Native American youth, white youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and youth with disabilities.
“We believe these types of engagements will help cultivate an interested pool of future job candidates here at the council,” Baker said.
Tazel emphasizes to the youth that “they have to have school as a base” for their future, but believes that exposing them to a variety of work opportunities is also critical.
“I want to plant the seed, because you never know when that seed will take root,” Tazel said.