On April 28, the III FFC, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150, and Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) hosted a hands-on Trades Career Fair for high school students. Trade career fairs are an essential part of connecting students to the construction industry by exposing them to an alternative educational and robust career pathway than the standard four-year or two-year degree from a college or university. In addition, industry partners and the union construction trades have a chance to connect and engage with enthusiastic members of the future workforce within their communities while increasing local awareness about their jobs and the trades as a whole.
Six schools located in Chicago were in attendance: Catalyst Schools, Prosser Career Academy, Simeon Career Academy, Richard T. Crane Medical Prep High School, Alcott College Prep High School, and North-Grand High School. Students learned how to start a career in the construction industry and how to become an apprentice. Representatives from a variety of trades explained their application process and how students can apply to become an apprentice and why apprenticeship programs are so essential to the public construction industry. Students learned that while they are an apprentice they can earn a good living, being paid for their in-class and on-the-job schooling. Skilled trades careers offer family-sustaining wages with stability and long-term potential, but all require training.
III FFC, IUOE Local 150, and CISCO collaborated to get a variety of union construction trades and organizations to attend. Over 25 representatives from organizations set up tables with informational pamphlets and promotional products. Unions that were present included IUOE Local 150, LiUNA, Bricklayers District Council, Plumbers Local 130, Cement Masons Local 502, IBEW 134, Carpenters’ Training Center, Chicagoland Roofers JATC, Pipefitters Local 597, Boilermakers Local 1, and Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 73. Some trades – such as the bricklayers, operators, and cement masons – brought hands-on activities for students to do. Students were able to lay bricks and drive a simulated excavator. Contractors Nicor Gas, NPL Construction, and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) were present, as well.
This event was a great opportunity for diversity outreach for the trades. We at the III FFC – along with other trades and community-based construction organizations – aim to build relationships with high schools across Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa to address the worker shortage and need for a diverse local workforce. Hosting these trades career fairs and similar events can help show all students there are great opportunities to take advantage of right here in their own backyard.
Thank you to all of the students, counselors, and representatives from the skilled trades unions who attended the event. We look forward to hosting many more in the future!
From the Spring/Summer 2023 Issue of The Monitor.