15th Annual Construction Career Days showcases good-paying careers, state-of-the-art technology to over 4,000 Michigan students
HOWELL – The Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee, or MASCI, welcomed more than 4,000 Michigan students from over 100 schools across Michigan to the 2023 Michigan Construction Career Days. Students and youth were introduced to rewarding careers in the construction industry and skilled trades, and engaged in hands-on training experiences, including state of the art technologies, and opportunities to operate heavy machinery, use welding simulators, visit with industry experts and much more.
The free event was open to students in 7th-12th grades, instructors, school administrators and others.
“For the 15th year, MASCI is excited to host Construction Career Days with all our partners and welcome students to get a hands-on experience to see all the great career opportunities in the construction industry,” MASCI Chairman Lee Graham said. “Michigan Construction Career Days allows us to connect with the students that will make up the next workforce generation, interact with them, and hopefully inspire them to a great future career in the Construction industry.”
Contractors, labor organizations, instructors, colleges, trade groups, associations, and educators were on hand at the event to talk about the construction industry with students who got to enjoy hands-on experiences with real world construction materials, tools, and equipment. Students drove nails, bent sheet metal, finished a concrete floor, used a jackhammer, built a brick wall, welded, operated heavy equipment, and much more, including virtual reality and simulators.
Ryan de Cardenas, a construction trades teacher at Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township, said he’s seen a steady shift over his 25-year career in students’ attitudes toward life after high school.
“Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen more students coming in and talking about trades, asking questions, what does a union training program look like,” said de Cardenas, whose dad was a millwright. “Getting your training program paid for, the opportunities from that are obviously endless because the companies are invested in their workers.”
Teachers, instructors and career counselors are excited about the future of the construction industry workforce.
Construction jobs are going to continue to be in demand, said Mike Andary, a professor of Construction Management at Northern Michigan University.
“Every sector of the construction industry needs people because there aren’t enough people to fill the void of retirements,” Andary said, adding that skilled trades professionals are essential to sustaining the construction industry and contributing to the health of the overall national and state economy.
Helping to fill that workforce void is the job of people like Ronald Merritt of Workforce Development Institute, who prepares individuals to join union skilled trades apprenticeship programs.
“We need so many more (skilled workers) to build our state back up,” Merritt said. “That’s the longevity of what this industry looks like. We’re probably looking at 75 years’ worth of work in the state of Michigan right now.”
“I’m looking into a welding career after high school”, said student Abigail Brace from Charlton Heston Academy. “This event gives us the ability to try new things, and trying things is the best way to learn what you might be good at.”
MASCI was initially formed in 1977 and serves in an advisory capacity to the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training in Michigan. They provide a forum whereby the entire apprenticeship community can express, discuss and promote ideas for the improvement and maintenance of the Registered Apprenticeship system in Michigan. From that beginning, MASCI has continued to provide dynamic leadership in assuring that our system of apprenticeship will continue to rank Michigan among the best in the nation.
The Committee’s present membership represents a broad cross-section of Michigan’s businesses and industries. It includes top officers from several major labor organizations along with leaders in technical education from community colleges and universities in Michigan and the State Department of Career and Technical Education. The US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and various Michigan public agencies provide governmental input and support to the committee’s mission. Finally, the public members-at-large are people with a long involvement in skilled trades training programs and bring many years of experience and invaluable expertise to the group.
The individuals and organizations that comprise MASCI, dedicate exceptional resources to advancing and growing Registered Apprenticeships. Both individually and as partners, MASCI members host and attend career outreach events, work with schools and districts on the development of curriculums, programs, and hands on opportunities to inform the students about the potential of careers in the professional trades and advanced manufacturing. MASCI has created materials to inform students and school professionals about the benefits of registered apprenticeships and their positive impact on careers, families, and communities.
Most importantly, MASCI is comprised of the very organizations that make Registered Apprenticeship possible in Michigan: labor groups that conduct the detailed, skilled training these careers need, and the companies and associations that provide the on-the-job training and careers that make these opportunities sustainable. The labor groups and colleges in MASCI represent the most high-tech, state of the art, advanced skilled trades training found in the country, with facilities throughout the state where apprentices get hands-on adaptive learning.
To learn more about opportunities in Michigan’s union construction trades, please visit MUSTCareers.org.