In Detroit Where Skilled Trade Apprenticeships Are In ‘High Demand & Help Avoid’ Student Debt, High School Grads Are Earning $20 An Hour & Free College Through Their Apprenticeships
(DETROIT, MICHIGAN) - Austin Grzywacz was a B+ student at Huron High School and figured he would go to college after graduation last year, but a Technical Education Program known as Mechatronics, which emphasizes electronics and mechanical engineering, convinced him to reconsider.
"Our Teacher was showing us all these different Trade Schools and the average Electrician is like fifty-five years old," he said. "So there's definitely demand for them and we need more. Once we saw the demand for them and we saw these companies looking for them, I just looked into it and then I interviewed with U.S. Steel."
Two months out of high school, he took a job paying $20.45 an hour as part of an Apprenticeship at U.S. Steel in Ecorse. He alternates eight-week stints of working in the plant and studying at Henry Ford College in Dearborn.
Grzywacz is one of many young people across the State choosing to forego a four-year degree in favor of a faster track to a technical career.
Educators, business leaders and economic development specialists have been working to boost interest in the Skilled Trades, everything from industrial occupations including Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters and Millwrights - as well as others in construction, health care and information technology.
The State estimates that more than 15,000 such jobs will need to be filled annually in coming years - and the average salary in those jobs is about $51,000.
"If we don't fill these jobs, industry goes away," said John Nasarzewski, who serves as the Director of the Downriver Career Technical Consortium, which coordinates technical training for nine high schools in southern Wayne County.
Nasarzewski and others like him across Michigan are sponsoring career fairs, manufacturing days and other events to showcase the need for technical skills.
And word seems to be getting out.
In Oakland County, the fifth annual Manufacturing Day was held earlier this month and drew 1,300 students from 25 high schools across the county.
Kids in groups of 20 to 25 rode buses to 48 manufacturing companies.
In tours lasting more than two hours, they saw what local manufacturers do, met with Workers doing the work and talked to managers who are looking for a talent pipeline.
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