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New Union Carpenters and Millwrights skilled training center opens in Detroit

Posted at 6:33 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 20:32:44-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — “I’ve got three little kids up at home and I’m here for them too. Build a career and a life for ourselves and this is a great place to do it,” Lily Bradow.

That place for Lily Bradow and hundreds of others is the brand new, $30 million Union Carpenters and Millwrights skilled training center on Detroit's west side.

“Now is the time to recruit and train for the skilled trades and now we have the most fabulous facility in our entire state to do it in,” said Tom Lutz, President of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

Tom Lutz showed off the 145,000 sq. ft. facility. The building is visible from the I-96 expressway and offers a path to a future for those who want something other than a college degree.

“The opportunity is to come to school here, one day, every two weeks, over 4 years,” said Lutz. “The unique part about it is, you don’t pay to come here, you get paid to come here.”

That definitely appealed to Kentae Parker from Pontiac who is gaining practical, on-the-job work as an apprentice while also learning in the classroom after spending three years at Oakland University.

“I was big in sports and stuff, and I felt like health science would be the right route for me, it just, after a while I realized that it wasn’t and I fell in love with doing this type of work, with the trades, so, decided to make my decision to change,” said student Kentae Parker.

“For 40 years people have said that you need to go to college for four years, and so quite frankly we have to change the culture and the mindset and remind people how good of an opportunity this is: good pay, good fringe benefits, including health care benefits, pensions and annuities,” said Lutz.

The need is as great as the opportunity for the next generation of workers in the skilled trades.

As we walked through the building, Lutz pointed out some of the many areas that allow for hands-on training.

“We have 30 welding booths, which provide opportunities for certified welders, and that education to both carpenters, millwrights, and display workers,” said Lutz.

“We have shop classes that train the men and women that work in our display industry. We have an entire flooring lab that provides opportunities for men and women that do installation of resilient, carpet, hardwoods, ceramic and polished concrete,” said Lutz.

“So, this is going to look like a hospital?” asked WXYZ’s Dave LewAllen.

“It’s going to look like a hospital in just a few months. It’s built by our apprentices, but it will be utilized to train infection control risk assessment training for years to come,” said Lutz.

And that only begins to scratch the surface of what’s available here -- for Lily and the others.

“You see everything you could potentially see on the job here, all in one place,” said Bradow.

“The opportunities are just amazing, and the initial investment is just you. If you want to do this, if you’re ready to build Detroit with us, show up,” said Lutz. “We’ve made a commitment to bring up to 25% of city residents into every apprenticeship class so if you really believe in build Detroit, we’re all in.”

There are six training centers around the state.

For more information: Build Michigan Future