The first annual Northern Wisconsin Building Trades Career Fair, held Thursday at Ashland High School, gave high school students around northern Wisconsin a chance to take a sneak peek at trade careers as well as connect members of the community with potential employers.
Several construction trade unions and business – many of whom were accepting applications onsite for the upcoming construction season – had informative display tables set up for a majority of the day inside of Ashland's Richard Sundberg Gymnasium.
Representatives from Market and Johnson Construction, Boldt Construction, B and B Electric, the IBEW Electrical Union, the North Central States Carpenters Union, the Millwrights Union, the Ironworkers Union, the Laborers Union, the Operators Engineers Union, the Painters Union, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and Northwest Wisconsin CEP participated in the Career Fair.
"All schools in the region were invited and NWCEP provided transportation grants to help
facilitate attendance," said AHS Agriculture/Natural Education Teacher Sandra Dee Naas. "The Ashland Education Foundation provided a grant for AMS/OPS 8th grade students to attend."
North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters Business Representative Jeremy Browen and NCSRCC Outreach Specialist Matt Campanario coordinated the event along with Naas, although Campanario credited Browen and Naas with doing the lion's share of the work.
"We have students that are doing the youth apprenticeship or certified co-ops and that can almost roll into one of the apprenticeships that they have in electrical apprenticeship or a carpenters apprenticeship," Naas said.
According to Browen, they were looking to expose area students to careers in construction as well connect local trades people to local trade jobs. That's especially important with all of the upcoming construction including the new Kwik Trip stations, hospital work, referendum projects and any other work that may be coming up in the future.
"North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and Market and Johnson Construction are working very hard to create opportunities for local citizens to have career job paths that create living wages, family health insurance and retirement plans," Browen said. "When local citizens spend their money in the communities it supports local businesses, creates tax revenue for the community and created more living wage jobs."
While the Career Fair ended up shutting down earlier than intended – it was originally scheduled to run until 6 p.m. but was cleared out by around 4 p.m. – both Browen and Naas agreed that they had a great turnout.
"Everybody was happy," Browen said.
"It was really packed in here most of the morning," said Naas, observing that students from Northwood, Hurley, Bayfield, Washburn and Ashland had attended the event, as did members of the local community.
The students participated in the different interactive activities set up, including the millwright's virtual welder, the painter's virtual spray booth, the ironworker's balance beam and the carpenter's nailing competition for example.
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