PAMELA COTANT For the State Journal
A pair of Waunakee High School seniors who aspire to work as construction managers said their eyes were opened when they attended a construction trades career day.
“I learned that there are a lot more jobs in construction than I thought there were,” said Carter Dull, a junior from Waunakee High School. “And there’s a lot more to the work.”
Dull, who came with other Construction II class students, said he plans to attend UW-Platteville for a career in construction management.
“It’s not just framing and plumbing,” said Alex Schwenn, also a junior from Waunakee who plans to become a construction manager. “That’s all you can think of. They need people. »
The Madison Area Builders Association held its eighth annual Careers Day on Wednesday. The event was held at three homes in the Arboretum Village development in Waunakee, which will be a site of the association-sponsored Madison Area Parade of Homes, June 17-26.
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Building industry volunteers showcased their trades through presentations and hands-on demonstrations in stamped concrete, kitchen and bathroom design, plumbing, smart home automation and masonry .
Career Day “gave me a perspective on other trades and maybe something else,” said Jordan Starr, a graduating construction trades class at Portage High School.
He came to the event thinking he would be a carpenter, but appreciated the chance to participate in a concrete stamping demonstration.
This year’s Career Day attracted over 220 students from 10 local schools. At one point, around 60 other pupils had planned to come, which would have boosted attendance to an all-time high, but some schools were unable to find bus drivers. Still, the numbers beat last year when just 30 students came, and the year before Careers Day was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chad Lawler, executive director of the Madison Area Builders Association, said the event introduces students to careers in the building trades and in turn helps an industry that needs workers. In some cases, the benefit is more immediate.
“Some of the kids who were there were looking for summer jobs. A couple had actually graduated and were looking for permanent employment,” Lawler said. “There is such a need. Any opportunity for someone to bring young helpers into business is always welcome. »
Matt Schumacher, lead construction trades teacher at Waunakee High School, said this was the fourth year he was bringing students from his Construction II class.
“Students are able to see the real benefits of getting into the trades, which include little to no college debt, 40-hour work weeks, practical skills that will never go away, and healthy pay with benefits” , Schumacher said.
The Builders’ Association likes to vary the trades featured on Career Day each year since its 420 members represent a number of fields, Lawler said. The event is free for students with lunch provided this year by Don Tierney, who helped coordinate the event as developer of Arboretum Village.
Jaden Kikkert, a senior from Portage High School who wants to become a police officer, said he learned a lot during the career day and found the smart home automation demonstration particularly interesting. He was with other students enrolled in the building trades class at Portage High School.
Another Portage student, Juliana Kreier, who is the only girl in the building trades this year, said she is considering a career in plumbing like her father, who works for a company and does odd jobs on his own. She said she enjoyed the plumbing demo, but also thought the brick laying demo was “another cool one.”
Braiden Drinka, an eighth-grade student at DeForest Middle School, came with other students from an architecture class. He said he came to the careers day thinking he would become a plumber, but found himself considering another possibility after seeing the bricklaying demonstration.
Eighth-grade Natalie Towns, who is in the same architecture class, said she wanted to be an interior designer like her mother. She said a computer program seemed a bit complicated but figured it would get easier once she learned more.
Kali Suchomel, another eighth-grade classmate, said she loves learning more about trades so she can one day use that information for her own projects.
“When I grow up, I can have these skills for myself,” she said.
In addition to sessions on particular trades, representatives from Madison Area Technical College and Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County spoke about educational opportunities.
The Madison Area Builders Association has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County to raise $35 million to establish the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center. He will introduce and train club members and students from area schools on the opportunities available in the construction industry. In addition, the center will prepare students for the transition to the labor market with training in soft skills and offer entrepreneurship courses for young people. The center is expected to open in April 2023.