Construction trades camp teaches teens skills | News, Sports, Jobs


Andie Balenger | Daily Press Students put their newly acquired electrical skills to the test at UPCC’s Building Trades Summer Camp, a six-week paid internship program for local students. After a brief demonstration by a professional electrician, students will use trial and error when attempting to effectively wire a light switch. When a student encounters a problem, an instructor assists him until he discovers where a misstep has been made.

GLADSTONE – The UP Construction Council (UPCC) kicked off its first-ever Construction Trades Summer Camp for high school students in the Delta/Schoolcraft area on July 11. This six-week paid internship program gives students ages 14-17 the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in all areas of trades work. After two weeks of training, the students have already learned the basics of carpentry, plumbing and piping.

“We want students to understand that there is actually a career opportunity after high school that they don’t have to go into debt to achieve,” Mike Smith, executive director of the UPCC, said. “They can earn and learn right out of high school.”

UPCC, founded in 1984, is a non-profit workforce management group that works with signatory contractors in the building trades to create programs, such as the Building Trades Summer Camp , which ensure that all members of the industry work together cohesively. This year’s summer camp is being held at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 7 (IUPAT DC 7) Training Center, located at 707 Clark Dr. in Gladstone.

“[The UPCC] ensures that we are all going in the same direction with a strategy to set up a safe working environment for the building trades”, said Smith.

The Building Trades Summer Camp is currently training 26 students, all of whom have had to go through a rigorous application process to be accepted into the program. Every student who applied had to take resume writing and interview skills workshops, both provided by Michigan Works. Once these workshops were completed, all candidates were interviewed and the students who excelled were hired.

“Michigan Works is interested in the skills trade because a four-year degree isn’t for everyone,” Megan Boddy, talent services manager at Michigan Works, said. “Trades offer students the opportunity to earn money while they learn, get a paycheck while they go to school, and get a hands-on education.”

Once hired, the students participated in a financial literacy workshop, offered by the Peninsula Federal Credit Union. In addition to guiding students through the banking process, the credit union helped students open new bank accounts if needed before their paychecks were deposited directly into the banking institution of their choice. Additionally, students were required to successfully complete a safety workshop with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration before entering the construction site.

“We hope to bond with these students throughout their high school careers,” said Smith. “We want to build that relationship, build that foundation, so that when they leave high school, we can get them right into one of our apprenticeship programs.”

In just six weeks, the students were tasked with making a mock-up for IUPAT DC 7, which will soon expand its learning program to the training center. The new mockup structure will replace an older version, which was used for practicing wall coverings, finishing drywall, and painting. During their first two weeks of training, the students were assisted by professional carpenters, plumbers, pipefitters and electricians to help develop the model.

So far, students have built the walls and roof of the structure, as well as installing plumbing fixtures for a washer, dryer and bathroom.

“I’m quite impressed. We thought it was a pretty big go project, framing all this in just four days with 14-17 year olds, and they did a great job,” said Smith. “The students really understood everything, they were focused and did a great job. »

Jack Taylor, an eighth grader at Gladstone Middle School, is one of the youngest students attending the camp. Having always been interested in the trades, Taylor thoroughly enjoyed learning the ins and outs of pipework.

“My uncle does it and I think it’s just fun to be able to weld,” Taylor said. “You don’t really have any opportunities to do that unless you have a real welding job.”

Grady Smith, a junior at Rapid River High School, also enjoyed his time at the construction trades summer camp. While students are currently learning how to wire lights and switches, the carpentry sector of the trades has so far been their favorite type of work.

“It’s a good experience and it will help me see if it’s something I want to do in the future,” said Grady.

Students work four-hour shifts throughout the week, each being paid $12 per hour plus an additional $200 bonus at the end of camp. While the Construction Trades Summer Camp is expected to be an annual event, its location will rotate to different UP locations each year. Since applicants had to be within a 45-minute drive of the workplace, this rotation will allow other students to take advantage of the program in the future.

“For high school seniors or juniors who will soon be graduating, this will just give them a taste of what each of the different trades does,” Ryan Stern of Michigan Building Trades said. “Just a little taste to get them interested, to plant a little seed in their head for what’s available to them.”

The UPCC Building Trades Summer Camp will conclude on August 18, with a graduation ceremony scheduled for students on the same day. At the end of camp, students will be able to take home all personal protective equipment and hand tools given to them at the start of camp. The cost of all this equipment, which was covered by the program’s sponsors, is approximately $4,000.

“When the students started, we had to teach them which end of the hammer to stand on. There were some that I didn’t know if they’d ever used a hammer before,” said Stern. “They have already come a long way in just the second week. They arrive early and they have their tool pouches ready to go before it’s time to work.



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