MARQUETTE, Michigan (WJMN) – Students from across the Upper Peninsula interested in careers in the professional trades gathered Friday at the Jacobetti Complex on the campus of Northern Michigan University to showcase their talents in construction, welding and drafting computer assisted.
UP High Schools fielded 12 teams to compete in this year’s 2022 Building Skills Challenge hosted by state and local authorities and building trade organizations. Students competed in various disciplines and received awards for the best and the brightest in a variety of fields. It was more than hammers and nails, students were judged on how well they worked as a team, took direction, and followed blueprints and plans.
“The small building project the students are competing against is creating a chicken coop with the following plans,” said Dr. John Centko, NMU Technology and Occupational Sciences. “And written instructions on how to do the assembly, and what they’re really working on is how to work as a team.”
The need for professional training close to home is important for the vitality and growth of our territory. With an aging workforce and growing demand for skilled trades, vocational training offers a real alternative to traditional higher education. With more immediate job placement and reduced or eliminated student debt, a career in construction is very attractive to those who want to join the workforce now, rather than attending four-year college.
“While these skills are really needed, we are really short in this economy of skilled people in the trades,” said Walker Hill, Houghton High School.
“Getting a solid education that has a portable skill set that isn’t outsourced is a huge plus for any graduate,” Dr. Centko said.
“That way I don’t have to pay tuition, restrictions or student loans to pay off,” said Mahatma Owens, Gwinn High School.
To meet the growing need for skilled construction workers and managers, the Jacobetti Complex is well positioned to produce a highly skilled workforce close to home. Something local lawmakers have been striving for for years.
“Students who choose to pursue a skilled trades program like Jacobetti’s, your chance of getting out and finding a job immediately is nearly 100%,” said State Representative Sara Cambensy, (D) 109th District .
The UP Skills Challenge is an annual event that promises to evolve with the ever-changing technology in the construction industry and continue to showcase the builders of tomorrow.