High School Seniors Explore Skilled Trades as a Career

More than 20 seniors from South Lake High School in St. Clair Shores visited the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy in February to learn about alternative career options instead of the typical four years at college.

The Construction Exposure field trip was the first of its kind at SEMCA, and aimed to encourage students to consider training and career opportunities in the skilled trades.

Mickey Mortimer gives students a safety briefing before going into the workshop

These students got an up-close look at electrical and carpentry tools, and what can be expected on a job site. Another important part of the day was the emphasis on safety while in the workshop.

“We made sure to plan for a safety briefing upon the students’ arrival before setting foot in the shop,” said Mickey Mortimer, COO of ABC SEMI/SEMCA. “For most, this was their first time around the equipment, and we wanted to make sure no one injured themselves and they left feeling good about this experience.”

From there, the group divided into three and had break-out sessions to learn even more about the construction industry as a whole.

“I felt it was important to make this an educational day for the students while also keeping it fun,” said SEMCA Director of Education Marissa Downs. “We arranged for current SEMCA instructors to be here and give the students a hands-on opportunity for learning.”

Students learn about electrical basics from SEMCA Instructor George Collar

Electrical instructors George Collar and John Danic had a station to engage students with basic electrical tasks they would learn as a foundation to becoming an electrician. Students learned how a switchboard operates and how to bend conduit for electrical lines to run through.

“We wanted to showcase some of the things that don’t come to mind for people when they think about what an electrician may do,” said Collar.

Another station for students was with SEMCA instructor Dallas Gamache, who teaches the introduction to construction class. Gamache demonstrated various power tools that are common to a job site. They then got to practice drilling on wood and metal studs.

The group wrapped up their day hearing from a panel of skilled trade professionals. Danic was joined by fellow electrician, Jim Struble and carpenter, Duane Lindensmith to answer questions from students about going into the trades, and how it is a viable career option.

“The Construction Exposure Field Trip provided an opportunity for students to envision themselves as part of the next generation of skilled trades professionals,” Downs said. “Our hope is that students recognize the vast opportunities available to them in construction, and that SEMCA can provide a path for them to reach their goals.”

The staff at SEMCA would like to thank Sarah Strohbeck, the career readiness and counselor consultant at Macomb Intermediate School District, for facilitating the school partnership needed for this successful event.