Carpenter’s Apprentice Hall Visit

“After the field trip all of our students were surprised at how much the trades paid, and they enjoyed working with their hands. As a result all of the students said they were seriously considering a career in carpentry, a few of whom have already started their paperwork to apply.”

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“Before they left school, we asked all of the students who attended the field trip what they planned on doing after high school. Most of the students said they planned on attending college, but they were not sure what they wanted to do after college,” said Mr. John Combest. However, these indeterminate future goals changed for many of the students after their day at the Carpentry Apprenticeship Program.

Eight students accompanied Mr. Ron Russell and Mr. John Combest to the St. Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program. The students got first hand experience in several different areas of carpentry. The goal of the visit was to help the students develop a better understanding of the apprenticeship process and the expectations should they choose to enter the carpenters union. Throughout the day the group had a few instructors and they were taken through the different career opportunities that the Apprentice Hall offers, which are carpentry, floor laying, and cabinet maker programs. They even got to walk through many classes and witness instruction in home building, floor laying, and cabinet making.

Also, as part of the experience, the carpentry program instructors provided the tools, materials, and instruction for each student to make his own tool box which they completed and got to take with them.

Lastly, the apprenticeship program was explained and students were told how to apply for jobs in each of the fields of study. The pay for each career was also explained. This was especially informative because while in school students hear quite a bit about careers that require a four-year degree, but very few know about the training programs available through the multiple construction trades. For instance, very few students are aware that while in training, students (apprentices) earn an hourly wage and learn while on-the-job. The current wages for carpentry apprentices are $14.31 an hour with $1.25 raises every six months until they hit $28.61 an hour, not including overtime. After this amount of training the carpentry program is complete, and an apprentice moves on to being a journeyman. Journeymen earn a base salary of $28 to $36 dollars an hour.

The apprenticeship program has partnerships with several local colleges and can grant up to 45  hours of college credit if a student completes the apprenticeship program. Some students use these hours to go on to get a college degree in a field such as “Construction Management,” but many others stick with the training and excellent wages they earn after completing the training program.

At the end of the day, Mr. Russell and Mr. Combest asked students about the information learned and opportunities they discovered on the visit. “After the field trip all of our students were surprised at how much the trades paid, and they enjoyed working with their hands. As a result all of the students said they were seriously considering a career in carpentry, a few of whom have already started their paperwork to apply.”

“Our students did an amazing job and they said we could come back at any time”, Mr. Combest said of the visit.

Mr. Jay Boleach, Career and Technical Education Coordinator for Ferguson-Florissant, hopes that the word will keep spreading about these opportunities. He stated, “There are not enough workers for the middle skill/skilled trade jobs. STL has one of the highest concentrations of skilled trade jobs in the country. This shortage [of skilled workers] is only going to amplified once the baby boomers start retiring.” Many, many construction jobs will be created and need to be filled once that occurs. He said more information is available at State of the St. Louis Workforce Report https://www.stlcc.edu/Workforce-Solutions/St-Louis-Workforce/

 

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