MAPS students learn about apprenticeship programs

MANISTEE — One of the big pushes in the world of education over the last several years is for vocational education and careers in the trades.

Jason Reed of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters speaks to Manistee High School juniors about apprentice positions that are open in the trades and construction. Reed started as an apprentice himself and spoke to the students as part of National Apprenticeship Week in a program that was organized by Project Northwest Michigan Works!

Jason Reed of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters speaks to Manistee High School juniors about apprentice positions that are open in the trades and construction. Reed started as an apprentice himself and spoke to the students as part of National Apprenticeship Week in a program that was organized by Project Northwest Michigan Works!

To commemorate National Apprenticeship Week (Nov. 12-18) members of the junior and senior class at Manistee High School were treated to a special presentation on Wednesday by Northwest Michigan Works! to make the students aware of the many employment opportunities that exist in becoming an apprentice.

Northwest Michigan Works! Apprenticeship & Business Resources Networks manager Evelyn Szpliet said Wednesday’s program was one of several they will be doing this week.

“We are giving community presentations in different schools and also we have a public information session that is taking place in Traverse City,” said Szpliet. “We are collaborating with the Michigan Carpenters Union and the Department of Labor. We are celebrating apprenticeships and talking about what they are and giving an overview of the program.”

Szpliet said they also are touching on Michigan Works! services that can help those who are interested in pursuing this as a career option.

Jason Reed of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters said the message he wanted to get across to the students was there is many good paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a college diploma that students can obtain through an apprenticeship program.

“I plan to talk with them about the apprenticeships and opportunities there are in those programs,” said Reed. “My expertise is in the skilled trades, so I am going to talk about those type of opportunities. Apprenticeships are like the secret that we want to get out to everyone.”

What makes it even more of a good opportunity is the fact that the trades are in need of many young workers.

“There are lots of opportunities to follow your ‘learn while you earn’ model and start down a career path,” said Reed. “Speaking specifically for the skilled trades, which would be all construction trades, there is a skilled labor shortage that we are aggressively trying to fill with employees.”

MAPS principal Andy Huber said that apprenticeship programs are a good avenue for some students to follow. He said other countries use some very active programs.

“In the United States we sometimes don’t have a lot of ideas of what apprenticeship means, but its very common,” said Huber. “If you ever talk to some of our European foreign exchange students they will tell you an apprenticeship is a very common way of people of other countries to learn about a trade or skill that leads to some really great jobs. I think the United States is really starting to get on board with it.”

Szpliet said they encourage students to come and visit them at Northwest Michigan Works! Manistee location in the old Kmart plaza to learn about job opportunities at their career cafe.

“Our services are absolutely free and we can help you with a lot of different career search skills, assessments and that type of thing,” said Szpliet.

Northwest Michigan Works! career facilitator Pam Anderson told the students about some of the things they can offer to help get them started on the path to a good career. She pointed out that they have to be at least 18 years old to start in any apprenticeship program, but the students can gain information on being an apprentice before they reach that age.

“Our center is open to the public and for any age,” said Anderson. “We have a lot of staff who are eager to help our public. We want to develop an economy that is good here in our county and in the surrounding counties, so we have to work with you to develop a workforce. We know what employers are looking for so we help you adapt your resume to those types of jobs you may be looking for.”

Anderson said things they can work with people on are creating a resume, discussing skills and information for interviews, job search and interview practices to make a good impression at an interview.

The Northwest Michigan Works! staff said there are several ways to find out what type of apprenticeship positions are available. Students can also visit the local office or go to other sources like:

• Asking local employers;

• Online job searches at Mitalent.org;

• Visiting Careeronestop.org; and

• For general information: apprenticeship.gov.

Northwest Michigan Works apprenticeship specialist Susan Ward told the students that apprenticeships can take one to 6 years, but they are worth the effort. Nine of 10 people taking part in apprenticeships go on to employment in the field they are doing the apprenticeship with a starting salary of $52,000 when they complete it.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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