The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 24, 2017

Building trades roadshow highlights apprenticeship

By The Building Tradesman

A building trades "apprenticeship roadshow" took place in Southeast Michigan Nov. 13-17, with a series of events aimed at highlighting careers in the skilled construction trades to the media, prospective apprentices and high school counselors. 

"We're celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with various events, but we do apprenticeships 52 weeks a year," said Patrick Devlin, secretary treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. "We're seeing a construction boom in Michigan and that, combined with longer term Baby Boomer retirements, is creating great jobs in all areas of the construction skilled trades. We've been actively recruiting since the market picked up and those efforts never really end."

On Nov. 14, about 50 high school career placement professionals from Macomb County took a daylong bus tour of several union trades apprenticeship schools. Apprenticeship school staffers explained the requirements of their trade, talked about academic requirements and what new apprentices could expect, and introduced workers whose lives have been changed by joining an apprenticeship. 

The event was co-sponsored by MUST (Management and Unions Serving Together) and the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. Visits were made to the IBEW Local 58/Detroit Electrical Training Center, the Sheet Metal Workers Local 80 Training Center, the Michigan Regional Carpenters Council Training Center, the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 2 Training Center, and the Painters and Allied Craftworkers District Council 1M Training Center. Operating Engineers Local 324 held their own separate Construction Career Day on Nov. 13.

"The construction industry is booming in Michigan and career opportunities are available for qualified, motivated individuals in many areas of the skilled construction trades," said Donna Pardonnet of MUST, Management and Unions Serving Together. "Apprentices receive comprehensive training and graduate debt-free."

The apprenticeship representatives pointed out a number of issues that the high school counselors may not have considered in recommending kids for careers in the construction industry. Such as: construction is hard work, but takes brain power too; the general "college for all mentality" is not for everybody, and that not all trades have a shortage of applicants, but they perhaps have a shortage of "qualified" applicants.

"I think what we had to say was a real eye-opener for the counselors," Devlin said. "I talked to one of the counselors who said a few years ago their success was measured on the fact that 96 percent of their graduates go on to college. My question was, 'what about the other 4 percent?'"