By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Among the many national holidays celebrated in the United States of America, and there are quite a few, the one honoring trade apprenticeships is a week long. This year’s National Apprenticeship’s Week (NAW) was November 13 – 19. As part of it, Milwaukee Building and Construction Trade Council (MBCTC) organized a day filled with hands-on experience for Bradley Tech high school students.
The event took place November 15, 2017, at the Lynn and Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School.
Dan Bukiewicz, president of MBCTC, sits on the Bradley Tech Board. He along with several others is the reason students get a chance to look at other options after high school graduation aside from attending university.
Bukiewicz said that this is the third annual hands-on event that MBCTC has done with Bradley Tech High.
The idea for such a day began three years ago when they were looking for an alternative way to get students interested in the trade. They decided the best way for students to get a sense of what a specific trade offered was to have them experience it themselves.
According to Bukiewicz, union traders representing every trade under the sun gathered at Bradley Tech High School. Some of the trades represented included bricklaying, welding, and plumbing. Additionally, they had simulations for painting and for bulldozing among others.
Laborers stood behind the displays ready to give a demonstration and answer questions.
During the event, students walked around to what interested them and tried it out. One student laid bricks while another cut tile. The premise was simple: give kids hands-on experience and their interest will grow from there.
“The most beneficial thing we could do is let the kids do the task,” he said.
Bukiewicz recalled one girl is considering trade school but wasn’t sure which trade she wanted to do. She briefly considered brick laying but ruled it out, before spotting the plumbing demonstration which piqued her interest.
He estimated that roughly 300 kids showed up today to explore the under-advertised world of trade schools. So far, it seems to be working better than a PowerPoint presentation.
One of the benefits of going to trade school straight out of high school is that the cost is covered. Apprentices get the opportunity to gain a new skill and enter the workforce without having to worry about student loans.
Although the event only lasts one day, Bukiewicz said they are hoping to expand it to two and eventually to other schools around the area. In the meantime, they do work with MPS schools and Oak Creek High School.
Oak Creek has a program for sixteen juniors and seniors during which they build a house. Training directors teach the kids how to wire the house, install plumbing and set up the windows. At the completion of the house, it is sold to raise money for next year’s program.
It’s through programs and hands-on events like these, where students get the opportunity to consider if a trade school is a more appropriate route for them.
According to Bukiewicz, this is especially important now with Milwaukee continuing to expand and the majority of the construction workforce being in their forties, there is a need for younger workers.
“Parents can educate themselves on opportunities,” Bukiewicz said.
By choosing to go through MBCTC, recent high school graduates and adults will receive a well-rounded education where they learn to be the master of their desired trade.