More than 1,000 students learned of the possibilities in the construction industry Wednesday and Thursday in Lake View. From welding to heavy machinery, carpentry to roofing, the goal was to teach high schoolers that there are more options after graduation than just college.
“You can’t export these jobs, you can’t export them overseas and send them back, it’s gotta be done here, it’s gotta be done locally with local people. Plus the amount of money you can make in a career that you can build is as good or better than going to college," Gary Bernardo said, co-chair for Construction Career Days.
Post-apprenticeship, working in the trades can command a starting salary around $50,000 with benefits and a pension. Bernardo says the demand for construction workers will rise 17 percent over the next 10 years because hundreds of baby-boomers are retiring each year.
Students received hands on experience, hammering nails, operating torches and even operating cranes. Gary Swain, Local 17 Business Manager didn't downplay the choice to go to college either because it allows future tradesmen and tradeswomen to gain knowledge about the field before getting into it.
“In five to ten years all of those people [average construction workers] are going to be retired and we have a lag with the people coming up with that skill level to be able to do those jobs," Swain said.
Liam Donohue, a junior at the Stanley G. Falk School, has always wanted to join a trade because of his family.
“Yeah I like this stuff, I like it a lot more than going to a desk for work, this is more fun," Donohue said.