As the demand for skilled trades continues to increase, those seeking experience and job placement in these fields could benefit from union apprenticeships. These are a wonderful opportunity for students who are interested in pursuing a more hands-on career – or those looking to earn as they learn.
“The construction boom combined with large numbers of baby boomers retiring over the next decade creates long-term, high-paying career opportunities for a whole new generation of workers,” says Jennifer Mefford, director of business development for the National Electrical Contractors Association’s southeast Michigan chapter and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58.
In order to ignite interest in these fields during National Apprenticeship Week, which takes place Nov. 12-16, 2018, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, MUST Construction Careers (Management & Unions Serving Together), and the Macomb Intermediate School District, have joined forces to offer a day of engagement and information to counselors from around Macomb County, along with career placement professionals and educators.
While the industry hosts several different activities throughout the year, this roadshow event – which takes place on Nov. 13, 2018 – is geared specifically at this key group of individuals that works with high school students.
The idea is to offer them a better understanding of union jobs and apprenticeships so they, in turn, can better serve students who might be looking for a different career path from the traditional college experience.
“The goal of the event is to elevate the understanding of union construction apprenticeships,” Mefford explains, “discuss what makes an ideal candidate for application, explore the role that advanced math plays in many of the trades and ‘get our hands dirty’ with hands-on lab activities that bring each trade to life.”
Groups will tour the following facilities, in addition to engaging in hands-on opportunities:
- Detroit Electrical Industry Training Center, Warren
- Sheetmetal Workers Local 80 Training Center, Warren
- Plumbers Training Center, Troy
- Carpenters Training Center, Ferndale
For an overview of this roadshow event, peek at this recap of the 2017 event:
Working with the school districts is important, Mefford says, as a way to create pathways from high school.
“Typically, what we are still seeing is somewhere (around age) 20 as the most common entry point,” Mefford adds – up to about 25 or 26 years old. “That’s why the pipelines are so important to us.”
With an earn-as-you-learn model, apprenticeships allow participants the chance to receive that hands-on, real-world experience.
“Union construction apprenticeships are full-time jobs,” she says. “Apprentices spend 90 percent of their time in the field through on-the-job training – and get paid for it.”
Starting wages vary by trade and range from $10 to $17 per hour with benefits, she adds. Each apprentice works with an experienced tradesman or tradeswoman who demonstrates how to do the job, then supervises the apprentice.
“In construction, they tend to move apprentices around so they get a more balanced and well-rounded experience. Then, they’ll go to school a certain number of days per month.” For example, Mefford says, electrical attends two days to practice and learn the theory.
“Once they graduate with us, their career just keeps going. Their career started the day they started.”
For more information on construction apprenticeships, visit the MUST Constructions Careers website.
Visit the Oakland County website for additional information on apprenticeship offerings.
To learn more about MISD, visit the Macomb Intermediate School District’s website.
To get additional details about Macomb County, visit the Make Macomb Your Home website.