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Carpenter’s Career Fair Checks All the Boxes

By: Michael King

Date: April 17, 2019

Construction is booming throughout Detroit, so now is the time to seriously think about training for a career in skilled trades. Many young people are looking for options that don’t include college and years of debt and will put them on a path of career growth, opportunity, good wages, and job satisfaction. The Carpenter’s Apprenticeship Career Fair checked all the boxes.

Thirty-five contractors met with an estimated 1,100 walk-ins and 650 local high-school juniors and seniors. Everyone was interested in one thing: Closing the skills gap and adding to the employable Southeast Michigan workforce. Job seekers came from all walks of life to find out more about training programs in Skilled Trades, the Other 4-Year Degree:
  • Twenty-three-year-old Tom T. traveled 45 minutes after hearing about the fair on Facebook. He had always been interested in the trades but did not know where to begin. Without family or close friends in the trades, the career fair became his first step. “I still don’t know where I’ll end up,” he said, “but I’m sure this event will help me to narrow it down.”
  • Brandon, 18, and Nathan, 17, came as part of a class field trip. Brandon came from a family of roofing and demolitions contractors and he convinced Nathan that a career in the trades is full of opportunity. Both of them were unsure of where they would ultimately end up, but they believed that if they worked hard, they could become a foreman, a master tradesman, or a project manager. Brandon commented, “That’s when the big bucks start rolling in.” •
  • Ryan Martin is the general superintendent of Aristeo Construction. Putting the skilled trades work day into perspective, he told attendees that the days can be long or short, you have to push through the hard times with the same fervor as you do with the good times, and you can rise through the ranks relatively fast. “You can also look back proudly on what you have accomplished,” he said.
  • Also attending the career fair was James, a 39-year-old who has recently fallen on hard times. When he heard about the event on Fox 2, he knew immediately that he would be at the event. “Today, good jobs are far and few in between, but not in the trades,” he said. He added that he had been employed in the field but had not gone through a union certified training program. This made it challenging for him to find stable work.

Visit the Become An Apprentice page for more information about how you might find your career!

Endless Opportunities in Skilled Trades

By: Michael King
Communications Intern
The Prewitt Group

More than $10B in construction projects are underway in Detroit, but there’s not enough skilled workers available to fill the range of jobs available. This fact and more were shared at the Chandler Park Academy Skilled Trades Career Fair, held on March 23, 2019.

School advisor, Lavell Nero, kicked off the event, noting that career fairs like this are important to help more students get exposed to skilled trade careers, as well as community college and HBCU programs, all of which were in attendance. He then introduced the keynote speaker, Renee Prewitt of The Prewitt Group and co-chair of The Partnership of Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation. Prewitt highlighted skilled trade careers via a discussion of the top ten reasons to consider a career in the field.


#1: The Availability of Jobs
There are more jobs available than skilled workers, demand for skilled labor has never been higher.

2#: Competitive Pay
The pay aligns with that of many white-collar positions, and some actually pay better. A few starting salaries are shown below.

Skilled Trades Starting Salaries

Heavy Equipment Operator: $55,000 Machinist: $45,000
Sheet Metal Worker: $47,000 Pipefitter: $49,000
Iron Worker: $55,000 Plumber: $55,000
Electrician: $54,000 Roofer: $45,000

3#: You earn while you learn.
During training, union apprentices are paid a salary, receive benefits, and when they graduate, often have little to no educational debt.

#4: You can own your future.
If you consider yourself a driven self-starter, you can quickly become a foreman or a crew leader, and within four years, a master journeyman and/or project manager. The skills learned can even help you start your own company.

#5: College is not for everyone.
An interesting statistic from the U.S. Department of Education states that 45% of all students who start college, dropout. One size does not fit all.

#6: You will never be outsourced.
Local laborers are the life-blood of Michigan construction projects. The industry cannot simply hire foreign laborers to cut costs.

#7: Technology is a growing part of the industry.
Most people think skilled trades jobs are dirty jobs, but this is simply not the case. Technology is creating new opportunities to work better and smarter, and are requiring new skill sets of employees.

#8: Getting started couldn’t be easier.
There are a host of local, city and state programs to help you gain entry into the construction industry. has streamlined this process by providing visitors with a one-stop website for all local information on skilled trades: Apprenticeships: The Other 4-Year Degree.”

#9: You will develop a lasting work ethic.
Some skills are important wherever you go. Those at the top of the list include several “beings,” such as on time, teachable, professional, responsible, and showing initiative are taught to those who are willing to learn.

#10: Now, more than ever is the time to get started.
Demand for the revitalization of the city of Detroit has risen. The money to rebuild is coming down the pipeline. Don’t pass up the opportunity to #RebuildDetroit

Build Your Future with Ajax Career Fair

By: Michael King
Communications Intern
The Prewitt Group

The Build Your Future with Ajax career fair was held on March 8, 2019, and featured representatives from Michigan Center for Truck Safety, Laborers’ Local 1191, Operating Engineers 324, as well as AJax. Some of the industry’s newest construction technologies were displayed throughout the room. At each station passionate experts explained what they did, and how they applied the new technologies on the jobsite. This was a place where job seekers could simply show up, learn about the skilled trades industry, and apply for a job as an apprentice.

Working with New Technologies

Unlike the skilled trades of yesterday, today’s skilled trades jobs offer employees strategic career paths to earn good wages and to learn the many new technologies that are a huge part of this growing industry. These technologies better equip the work force for future success by assisting road crews to finish jobs more efficiently and to avoid costly errors.

One station at the event demonstrated how 3D mapping systems create the physical parameters of roads and guide the machines laying concrete and asphalt. At the Operating Engineers station, attendees sat at a training simulator. No scores were recorded, but I got a chance to see how apprentices learn to use computers installed in heavy equipment machinery like bulldozers and cranes.

How can job seekers get started?

When applicants come to events like Build Your Future with Ajax, the first step is to talk to men and women representatives onsite and make sure that a career in skilled trades is what you really want. After filling out an application, applicants are vetted, interviewed and may ultimately come on board for training and employment within a few weeks. Events like this help job seekers get their foot in the door as apprentices. So, if getting paid while learning, taking free courses for career advancement during employment, receiving top-notch benefit packages, and doing work that you can be proud of sounds like a good deal, then a career in the skilled trades may be the right fit for you. Earn while you learn through an apprenticeship, the other four-year degree.  To get you started, visit our website at  In addition, informational resources are provided below. 

Trade and Apprenticeship Information

Apprenticeships in Michigan: The numbers

By Naheed Huq, SEMCOG

Last month during National Apprenticeship Week, the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives (LMISI) released a new report that provides an overview of registered apprenticeships in Michigan and identifies some of the main trends impacting the future skilled trade pipeline in the state. The data will help policy makers evaluate the skilled trade labor supply, understand gaps in the workforce, and address shortages in key industries.

We are very excited to release this report on Registered Apprenticeships in Michigan. For the first time, we were able to confirm key characteristics of Michigan’s apprentices, as well as identify some of the challenges and opportunities that exist for apprenticeship programs in Michigan. This report will provide our state partners with the information they need to develop apprenticeship programs as a crucial source of workforce talent.

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Detroit’s National Apprenticeship Week Makes a Case for #BlueCollarLife

By Renee Prewitt

The second annual National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2016, made a deep dive into the Metro Detroit region recently, and helped to move the apprenticeship needle from mystery to reality for many people who have never found a pathway into skilled trades. Throughout the week—Nov 14 to 20—a series of events took place that proved to be a huge opportunity for both sides of the employment pipeline: Employers who need to fill hundreds of skilled trades jobs benefited from the creative outreach, and those who can work these jobs learned what is required to be prepared for the challenge.

It marked the progression of a beautiful relationship.

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Faced with a labor shortage, companies create their own pipeline

By Aaron Price

A few years ago, we did a gap analysis on our industry, and asked ourselves, “What will the employee pipeline look like in five years?”

Cadillac Asphalt is Michigan’s largest asphalt supplier, with the capacity to produce more than 4 million tons annually. We run seven paving crews with 200 employees during the heart of construction season. However, with the growing economy, potential road funding increases and pending retirements, Cadillac Asphalt predicts we will need to double our size by 2020. Filling the skilled trades employment gap is the biggest issue in the construction and infrastructure industries today, especially in Detroit.

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Apprenticeships: The other four-year degree!

By Naheed Huq
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that apprenticeships seem to be the Next Big Thing?

Some may say that there is nothing new about apprenticeships. They have been around for many decades. So why are we hearing so much about them now? Well for a start, this week (November 14-20) is the second annual National Apprenticeship Week, as designated by the US. Department of Labor. Michigan businesses, governments, education, and labor organizations are celebrating big time! The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (PDOT) is serving as a clearinghouse for events in Southeast Michigan and is promoting those that help raise awareness of skilled-trade careers as well as apprenticeship training and employment programs.

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National Apprenticeship Week Focuses on Apprenticeships: The Other 4-Year Degree

apprenticeship_fact3October 17, 2016, Detroit, MI–There are more than 1,200 skilled trades jobs listed on dozens of job sites in Michigan, and the race is on to fill each one of them. At a time when the “go to college” mantra is coming face-to-face with staggering college debt, there has never been a better time to consider what blue-collar life offers. For many, it means a good paying career that can never be outsourced, and a professional option that taps into a person’s desire to build things with their own hands.

National Apprenticeship Week, Nov 14-20, is one way to raise awareness of the many opportunities in the skilled trades, particularly in the construction and transportation industries. All week employers, employment agencies and unions will host events that focus on skilled trades as a career option. Events will be posted at

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6th Annual Construction Science Expo

The Construction Science Expo is an annual event, held in late spring at a prominent location in Detroit, during which high school students who have signed a drug-free pledge are invited to spend a day being exposed to careers in the engineering and construction fields through a variety of speakers and hands-on experiences. The first event was held in 2011 at the Michigan (Detroit) Science Center, and subsequent highly successful events have been held at that location or the A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical Center.

Top Ten Quotes about Apprenticeships & Skilled Trades

By Lisa Killingsworth

images-3As the United States and Michigan claws a way out of the devastating recession—which recorded record unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression—people are looking at the employment landscape with renewed expectations. The road to college has been paved with a singular view for too long, held up as the premier way to achieve career success. However, mounting college debt and low unemployment rates for college grads have caused many people to wonder: Is there another way to career success?

Today, we are looking at apprenticeships as the other four-year degree, and informed people know that there are good paying, career opportunities in the skilled trades that allow you to earn while your learn, and transition you to full careers in various professions.

Everybody is talking about it. Here are some of the Top Ten quotes we captured that underscore the changing landscape for career opportunities.


  1. Investments in skilled-trades training also can lead to good-paying jobs for people, both black and white, who might not have had the opportunity to go to college.”Detroit Free Press, ‘Race Dominates Discussion at Mackinac Policy Conference’
  1. “Today everybody is told they have to go to college, they have to get a degree. But I think it’s important that we get the word out that you can support a family, you can make a living in manufacturing without that four-year degree.” – The Detroit News, Skilled Trades Would Get 75% Boost in Snyder Budget’
  1. In some ways, we lost track of career tech education and the skilled trades. Big mistake. And we’re paying a price for that today. There are a tremendous number of great jobs out there waiting to be filled.” – Governor Snyder, The Detroit News, Snyder Promotes Trades Training After State of State’
  1. “There’s this constant balance that goes on between the definition of a good job and our understanding of a truly valuable education. Not all knowledge comes from college, but not all skills come from degrees.” – Mike Rowe, ‘CNNs Mike Rowe: Michigan Must Change Perceptions Of Skilled Trades’
  1. “We’ve heard the best path for most people is a four-year degree. These things become platitudes and before long it’s inculcated in our minds that there is a path to success and this is what it looks like. We have to be mindful that these stereotypes and stigmas actually exist, and rather than pretend they don’t, it’s useful to talk about them head-on.” – Mike Rowe, ‘Shattering Misconceptions’
  1. An MEDC grant of $50 million has kick-started new investment in the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program. [It’s] an effort to help close a talent gap and meet the current demand for good-paying jobs by enabling community colleges to purchase equipment required for educational programs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations.” – Governor Snyder, ‘Michigan’s Talented Future’ JustRight
  1. “As society has moved from an industrial to knowledge-based economy, skilled trades remain a part of that shift contrary to many misperceptions. The role of skilled trades is even more critical as manufacturing continues to evolve in the high-tech global economy, offering exciting career opportunities that are in high-demand.” – Detroit Regional Chamber, Perception, Partnerships And Pipeline Will Close The Skills Gap In Michigan’
  1. “What we’re seeing from employers is they want people who have actual skills, who have work experience, who can demonstrate they can actually do something. We think that vocational programs should not be an alternative track for the non-college bound — it should be a track for everybody.” – Lisa Katz, ‘Experts: Apprenticeship Degree Can Land In-Demand Job’
  1. It’s the best of both worlds,” Wofford said in an interview at the shop, which makes and repairs molds for plastic parts such as auto-fuel tanks. ‘You get the on-hand experience, but you also need the knowledge of education from college.’” – Toby Wofford (18), apprentice at United Tool and Mold Inc., South Carolina, Apprenticeship Good for Ben Franklin Closes Skills Gap’
  1. “It is a great message. We’ve got to do a better job of backing kids up and making sure they have an opportunity to explore career options early in their tenure, so that they have a chance to start matching up what they like to do, and their passions, and their talents with a career. We can’t wait until they’re at 11th or 12th grade to do that, so we need to back that up. And skilled trades is a vital part of this state’s economy.” – Karen McPhee, The Detroit News, New Adviser to Push Skilled Trades Issues for Snyder’

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (The Partnership) consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities. is one of our programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships, apprenticeship readiness services, and business opportunities.