On Wednesday, January 29th, NEWCA hosted their first Career Day with the students of Thunder Basin High School. The goal is to help students understand the lack of new employees going into skilled trades and showing them the opportunities that exist in Campbell County.
Even if the student has the desire to earn a four-year degree, the advantage of gaining the degree while working for an employer in a skilled trade can be highly desirable. Often times the employer will pay for your college tuition and books. Ethan Fuller with Scott Brothers Electric talked the students through how he came to be an apprentice electrician.
“I started working for Scott’s at 18, right out of high school and earned my business administration degree. Each summer and over Christmas break I would get hired back to earn some funding for the degree. After (college) graduation I realized I really liked the work that I do for Scott Brothers and they hired me on full time as an apprentice. Now they pay my tuition and books towards my journeyman’s license. With two years left to go, I wish I wouldn’t have spent the $28,000 for the business degree.”
Serena Tays and Jason Tystad with S&S Builders highlighted the earning potential for students: right out of high school, with no true training, a tradesman earns roughly $17/hr.
Nationally, women earn $.81 on the dollar compared to men, and in construction that wage gap closes to $.94 on the dollar, with no gap at all on state or federal jobs (which are the bulk of S&S’s projects.)
They finished each session talking through different challenges with job sites, showing a video where they demolish a bridge with explosives without damaging the newly built bridge right beside it.
“That was the first time a bridge had been demolished with explosives in the state of Wyoming. Now we’re getting calls from around the state asking us to blow up bridges” states Tystad.
The highest rated part of Career Day was the WCA Heavy Equipment Simulators. Up to 10 students at a time could try their hand at running heavy equipment.
“It was very accurate” stated Luke Bennett with Accent Masonry, who uses heavy equipment all the time as a mason. He said he’s had some “scary times” in heavy equipment.
If you’d like to learn more about NEWCA’s efforts to close the skills gap, and hear from local SkillsUSA students, don’t miss our March Chamber Luncheon.