Operating Engineers 324 gave high school counselors hands-on tours at their Construction Career Center in Howell, the largest such facility in the state. This event was part of National Apprenticeship Week.
OE 324 partnered on the event with Ironworkers Local 25, Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 514, USDOL, Michigan CAT, Great Lakes Fabricators and Erectors Association, Michigan Building and Construction Trades and MUST.
Counselors were able to learn about skilled trades and try out operating heavy equipment, reinforcing steel and even rise to the top of their five-story “Raising Gang” Building Structure. They also were able to get a taste of the latest technology, including simulators, drones and autonomous equipment.
“There are so many exciting, good-paying careers available in the growing construction trades in Michigan, but not all students are aware of these exciting opportunities,” said Operating Engineers 324 President Ken Dombrow. “That’s why Operating Engineers 324 joined with our partners and opened up our Construction Career Center today so that high school counselors could see for their own eyes everything that our apprenticeship programs have to offer.”
“Today was exciting, to try all of this equipment. To try a crane, and experience these things and be able to come back to the classroom and encourage students to try these skills. Be exposed to things you might like, that can fulfill their career,” said Shelly VanderMeulen, Career Facilitator from Networks Northwest. “Everybody was fantastic. They knew what they were doing, were safe and helpful. This was a great opportunity, and I can’t wait to bring this back to the kids in our own local area.”
Instructors and coordinators were on hand to discuss how to identify good candidates for free apprenticeship programs, as well as pre-requisites for the program and the career opportunities available after completion.
“It was eye opening,” said Wendy Wachowicz, Guidance Counselor for St. Charles Community Schools. “We’ve been asked to do more with skilled trades. It’s a big need in the state. It’s helpful to know how students can apply, and what kind of requirements they have, as well as what kind of opportunities are out there for them.”