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Educators across Michigan get a firsthand look at rewarding construction careers for their students

HOWELL, Mich. – The Operating Engineers Local 324 joined other skilled trades unions to host Michigan educators from more than 50 schools statewide last Thursday to highlight careers in construction and good-paying jobs that their students can get right out of high school.

The event was held at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell and was part of the MUST (Management-Unions Serving Together) Roadshow in celebration of the US Department of Labor’s National Apprenticeship Week 2021.  The Operating Engineers 324 were joined by the United States Department of Labor, Ironworkers Local 25, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 2, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Michigan Laborers Training & Apprenticeship Institute, Sheet Metal Workers 80, UA Plumbers 98, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), and MUST.

“This open house was a fantastic event showing educators around the state the career opportunities in the skilled trades and the partnerships that make those opportunities possible,” said Lee Graham, Operating Engineers 324 Labor Management Education Committee Director. “The educators got a good look at how their students can start a rewarding career with good wages and benefits straight out of high school. They were able to hear from leaders from the US Department of Labor, Michigan Building Trades, Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity, and many other organizations and then have a hands-on experience with many of the professional construction trades that are providing the next generation solid careers.”

Over 150 educators visited from 50+ school districts around Michigan.  They listened to comments from speakers and then broke out into groups where they saw nine unique work areas and tried their hands at varied construction tasks like setting iron beams, sweating and threading pipe, welding simulation, operating an excavator, and utilizing a jackhammer on concrete.  There were nine workstations showcasing different construction tasks for the educators to experience and speak with instructors and apprentices from each trade.

“It was great to see the counselors and administrators out here,” said Craig Bryant, Construction Instructor from Romeo High School. “When educators have the information, the knowledge like they are getting here today, they can better help steer those students who are interested in careers like these great

“It’s amazing,” said Jennifer Uhl, Counselor at Goodrich High School. “The amount of information we’ve got here today, I’m so excited to go back and share with our students.  I’ve asked every question I have, received great answers, and now understand the process for our students to enter these careers.  The application processes, the pathway, they are so much clearer to me now, and I’m sure it is to the others attending here today as well.”

“Operating Engineers 324 is always excited to share the value of a career as a skilled tradesperson, and how preparation for these good-paying jobs relate to STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math,” said John Hartwell, OE324 Career and Outreach Coordinator. “We were able to share information with educators across Michigan about how their students can start a rewarding, good-paying career straight out of high school. Our apprenticeship programs open the door to many opportunities for young people to enjoy a financially solid rewarding career. Educators had fun getting some hands-on experience with the equipment we use, talking with construction professionals, and getting information from current apprentices.”

The Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell, Michigan is a 560-acre, state-of-the-art facility training the next generation of Heavy Equipment Operators and Technicians.  The members of Operating Engineers 324 have kept Michigan moving onward and upward for a century.  With over 14,000 members, OE324 operate the heavy machinery that propels construction on the roads, bridges, buildings, energy plants, pipelines, airports, and nearly every large-scale project in the state.

Highly skilled OE324 members operate cranes, dozers, trucks, excavators, and countless other equipment, propelling us into the future.  They are also at the forefront technologically, using next-generation equipment like robotic and remote-controlled machines and drones.

Operating Engineers 324 also represent the highly skilled Stationary Engineers who operate and tend complex boiler and HVAC systems and the trained technicians who fix and repair this equipment and keep downtime to a minimum.

To learn more about opportunities in Michigan’s union construction trades, please visit