Representatives from various NWI building trades apprenticeship programs and area high school guidance counselors were brought together by the Construction Advancement Foundation (CAF) and the NWI Workforce Board to collaborate on ways to introduce young people to careers in the trades.

Apprenticeship coordinators from the Roofers Local 26, IBEW Local 697, Tech Engineers/Plumbers Local 130, the Indiana Plan, and the IKORCC Local 1005 were in attendance. They shared with school officials details about the challenges many hopeful apprentices face as they apply to enter their programs.

“What we’re looking for is employability,” said Dale Newlin coordinator and treasurer with IKORCC. “We don’t expect them to have the skills required for the job yet, but we do expect them to have proficiency in soft skills such as math and reading.”

He explained that tardiness and attendance issues are among the biggest problems with apprentices. This concern was echoed by several of the other unions as well. Additionally, the union officials expressed that even though the construction industry is in the midst of an overall shortage of workers, many organizations are still highly selective about the types of candidates they admit to their programs.

“We’re going to be paying these individuals a great deal of money – even during their training. Due to the increasingly advanced nature of the industry, we’ve got to have people who are smart on their feet and good problem solvers. And, most importantly, they have to be passionate about the job,” said Joe Dancho from Local 697.

During the Q and A portion of the event, several of the counselors expressed interest in developing new ways to expose young people to the trades, either by having them visit various training facilities or by bringing more opportunities to their schools.

Following that, the counselors took an aptitude test similar to the one new applicants would take. Then, they were even given examples of how a job interview at the various programs would transpire. In all, many were left with a better sense of how to prepare their students to apply for careers in the building trades and what kinds of individuals union officials are seeking.

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