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Thousands of students get hands-on industry experience during Michigan Construction Career Days

Thousands of students get hands-on industry experience during Michigan Construction Career Days

HOWELL – The Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee (MASCI) welcomed thousands of Michigan students from more than 100 schools across Michigan to the 2024 Michigan Construction Career Days on May 1-2. Held at Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell, the two-day event is designed to help introduce students from middle through high school to good-paying, in-demand careers in the construction sector.  This year, over 4,000 students registered for the event.

“The Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee Inc. is always excited to host Construction Career Days with all our partners throughout the construction industry and help showcase great career opportunities to students who have a passion for the skilled trades and are ready to start a good-paying and in-demand career,” MASCI Chairman and Operating Engineers 324 Labor-Management Executive Director Lee Graham said. “Construction Career Days is designed to open up a whole new world of possibilities for young people who may want to start working right out of high school in a great profession and without accumulating college debt. Students will see how they can earn good pay, get great healthcare and enjoy retirement benefits working in the construction field.”

The 16th annual Construction Career Days was open to students in 7th-12th grades, instructors, school administrators and others. At the event, students and youth engaged in hands-on experiences, including state of the art simulators, and even operated heavy machinery as part of their introduction to the construction industry and skilled trades. Students also learned how the skills they experienced during Construction Career Days was central to working on a range of projects, including:

  • Infrastructure and heavy construction, such as roads, bridges, tunnels and dams
  • Residential building, including housing and utilities
  • Institutional and commercial buildings, such as hospitals, offices and warehouses
  • Specialized industrial construction, such as processing and power plants

Adam Gorring, Clarkston Community Schools construction instructor who is participating in the event for the 10th year, said Construction Career Days introduces students who may be wondering what to do after high school to good-paying career options.

“Four-year colleges can be great for a lot of students, but for all the students we see walking around here, they need something different. You can see the excitement that they have,” Gorring said. “I’ve got students who came with me on a trip like this 10 years ago, who now send me pictures of them on the job, working heavy equipment.”

Tim Rawls, a construction instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campuses in Pontiac, praised the hands -on component of Construction Career Days.

“Just getting out there and doing it is the best way to learn,” he said. “Put a hammer in your hand, get out there and physically doing the work – you can’t teach better than that.”

Connor Cabello, Frankenmuth High School senior, agreed: “This is my first time, I love it, it’s awesome. You get to experience what your workplace is going to be like.”

And Construction Career Days can even persuade on-the-fence students to consider working in the industry. Aidsa Briceno of Godfrey Lee High School was one such student.

“I didn’t think I’d be super-duper interested in it, but now that I see this, I’m interested in it and I want to do something like this,” she said.

Contractors, instructors, school administrators and apprentices were on hand at the event to talk about the construction industry with students and showcase the many opportunities and career paths in the construction industry, including registered apprenticeships. Employers, colleges, and other organizations were on-site to share information about career pathways in management, administration, skilled trades, and operations.

Construction Career Days is a joint effort of the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee (MASCI), skilled trades unions such as Operating Engineers 324, government agencies, colleges, industry associations, and some of the largest construction companies in North America.