The conversation around what careers will be in demand in the coming years for recent grads and high-schoolers preparing to enter the workforce is a hot topic. High college debt and degrees that don’t connect workers to work is changing the way we look at post-high school career education.
“Where do you want to go to college?”
That’s a well-meaning question asked by parents and career placement professionals, but it over-looks one of the greatest opportunities that exists today — careers in professional construction skilled trades that begin with apprenticeships.
There are amazing career opportunities in the construction skilled trades for motivated, qualified people, and that is especially true in Southeastern Michigan. Everywhere you look, businesses are growing, renovating and building. The construction boom combined with large numbers of baby boomers retiring over the next decade creates long-term, high paying, career opportunities for a whole new generation of workers.
Let’s shift the conversation from “Where do you want to go?” to “What do you want to do?” Or even better, “What do you want to build?”
Union construction apprenticeships are full-time jobs. Apprentices spend 90 percent of their time in the field through on-the-job training and get paid for it.
Hands-on education allows apprentices to experience a variety of job-site scenarios that reinforce the additional learning they will do in the classroom, at one of the Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship training centers in the region.
Starting wages vary by trade and range from $10-$17 per hour with benefits. Apprentices are partnered with experienced Journeymen on-the-job who teach, supervise and support the learning environment. Apprentices also spend time each month in the classroom with professional instructors learning theory, codes and standards and in lab-settings practicing new skills.
Apprentices graduate debt-free. The partnership between the contractors of the National Electrical Contractors Association of Southeastern Michigan and the highly skilled workforce of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 58 privately fund the program. Tuition is just $100 per quarter and there is a $300-$400 investment for tools, boots and clothing as the program begins.
And you’re getting paid the entire time.
Electrical construction careers
NECA contractors and IBEW Local 58 electricians build, power, connect, network, maintain, secure and create some of the most dynamic structures in the region. Most people think about lighting when they think electrical and while that is an important aspect of our industry, it’s just one piece of the very complex work we do.
The IBEW-NECA team serves the commercial, public, industrial and residential markets and there are three different types of apprenticeships available: 5-year inside journeyman wireman, 3-year sound and communication and 3-year residential construction.
The programs allow apprentices to follow their interests within the field and obtain specialty certifications in areas like renewable energy, instrumentation, fire alarm, security systems and much more. Ninety-eight percent of our NECA signatory contractors began their career with the apprenticeship and now own some of the largest electrical contracting firms in Michigan and the country.