Whitmer applauds Construction Career Days for opening door to good paying jobs in skilled trades
HOWELL – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised Construction Career Days as key to introducing Michiganders to good paying jobs when she joined more than 3,800 students who attended the event at Operating Engineers 324 career center in Howell on May 1-May 2.
“Events like Construction Career Days provide opportunities for students to explore the right career path for them,” Whitmer said. “It’s important that students know they can go into skilled trades and get a good job right here in Michigan. I’m committed to closing the skills gap and making sure that everyone can build a good life in our great state.”
In addition to the Operating Engineers, a diverse range of other skilled trades unions co-hosted the career event, including the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, and others. The event attracted 7th to 12th graders from dozens of schools across Michigan, and featured education, hands-on activities, computer simulations and equipment demonstrations and handling, as well as informational booths about careers in the skilled trades field.
“The Michigan construction Industry continues to grow and offer long-term careers for qualified candidates,” said Pat Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. “Construction skilled trades unions together with our employers privately fund our apprenticeship programs at training centers throughout the state and invest nearly $85 million of our own money in those programs annually. Construction Career Days is a collaborative effort that brings our industry to life through hands-on activities and engagement. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers, bricklayers, ironworkers, laborers, operating engineers and more all offer great career opportunities and debt-free education.”
The event was held at OE324 Construction Career Center, 275 East Highland in Howell. The Howell event provided information for students about joining union apprenticeship programs. They learned that union apprentices do not pay any tuition and education and training are free. In addition, apprentices are paid to learn and receive benefits, including healthcare and pension.
“Construction Career Days provides a showcase for young people throughout Michigan to see, feel and experience construction work,” said OE324 Business Manager Douglas W. Stockwell. “For us, the excitement is watching students use real tools, real equipment and real techniques side by side with real industry professionals – and watch the light bulb go off that a career in the construction industry is rewarding, challenging and even fun. We’re always thrilled to help inspire the next generation of skilled trades professionals.”
OE324 Training Director John Osika said: “Right off the bat, young men and women in skilled trades start with great wages and great benefits. Our apprentices learn skills that will always be in demand and those skills are the foundation for a lucrative professional career that allows men and women to enjoy a good life and provide for their families. Skilled trades professionals get to work with their hands, their heads and their hearts as they build Michigan’s future.”
Some high-profile construction projects in the near future that will require highly skilled workers include the new Detroit-Canada bridge, the new Hudson site development in Detroit, massive upgrades to the Soo Locks in the Upper Peninsula, new wind farms in mid-Michigan and a new hospital near Ann Arbor, among others.