Editor’s note: Bob Crissman taught the Building and Trades course in Schoolcraft schools for many years. It is his passion to encourage young people to get into the trades as a career. He wrote this article as a nudge to get students to consider these possibilities while in their early years of high school.
There is a growing need for skilled construction workers. Wages are raising at a rate faster than other jobs, and construction jobs cannot be out sourced.
The most important thing for students today is that they acquire a skill. The skill could be acquired in an apprentice program, a technical school, a community college or an advanced college degree. But it is imperative that students have a marketable skill to gain sound employment.
Students considering a career in construction should check school class offerings and enroll in any industrial education classes that are offered. Education for Employment (EFE) through Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) offers vocational courses in Kalamazoo County. In addition, students can arrange for a job shadow in any field that interests them.
Schools may allow days off for this. But students can also arrange to shadow a skilled tradesperson during non-school days. Knowing what actually occurs in a job may be a real eye opener.
To join an area plumber/pipefitter apprentice program, students can apply between Feb. 2 and Feb. 27 at the Local 357, Plumbers and Pipefitters Union at 11847 Shaver Rd., Schoolcraft. The program is open to those 17 and older. Bob Gulbranson at 679-2570 has more information.
Those wishing to join a union carpenters apprentice program must have worked for a union contractor for seven days and must pass a math test. For more information students can call the Carpenters Union Local 525 office at 345-8601.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College offers construction-related classes in heating/ventilation/cooling, electricity and welding.
These are options available in Kalamazoo County. Students should check with high school counselors about other technical schools that offer training in various trades and careers.