A new training center for apprentice carpenters and millwrights has officially opened in Detroit’s Northwest neighborhood. The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights’ new state-of-the-art facility will train as many as 1,500 students for in-demand, good-paying, union jobs each year.
In a future of work report, producer AJ Walker takes viewers to the ribbon cutting of the new Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters training center to hear from leaders about how the project came to fruition and what skills training the organization will provide at the new center.
AJ Walker, Contributor, One Detroit: With the cut of a ribbon, hope and opportunity continues to spread across the greater Detroit area. This time, it will bring jobs for those seeking more money and ultimately a better quality of life, with the grand opening of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights’ new training center.
Mayor Mike Duggan, City of Detroit: Isn’t this a great day? I think about three years ago, Mike Jackson and Lisa Canada and I were out here, this was an abandoned school site, and I was saying, “this is going to be perfect for the carpenters and millwrights”, and they saw the vision. We got to see first-hand, carpenters know how to build, this thing went up in a hurry and came out beautifully, didn’t it?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, State of Michigan: This is a phenomenal opportunity for the people of our state, for our state’s economy, for individuals who are looking for fulfilling work, that you can make a darn good living and raise a family and enjoy a high quality of life; that happens in facilities like this.
AJ Walker: A state-of-the-art training facility that will give those who are willing to put in the work, a chance to gain skills that will jumpstart their future and career outlook.
Mayor Mike Duggan: We like to say that our apprenticeship is the other 4-year degree, but the difference is that here, our students do not advance student loan debt. Matter of fact, our apprentices, that’s right, the men and women in our apprenticeship programs, earn a good wage while they’re learning. And they get benefits, the kind that every working person deserves, including health care and the way to have an honorable retirement.
AJ Walker: Among the many who came out to tour the building, we found Jeremy Champion, a Detroiter who hopes the skills taught here might change his life.
Jeremy Champion, Detroit Resident: I actually applied for the apprenticeship on last week and took the test in my interview. I felt really good about it and I’m hoping to get into the apprenticeship.
AJ Walker: Without a program like this, what do you think your career outlook or future would have looked like?
Jeremy Champion: Without a program like this? I think I would have been more focused on possibly retail or maybe fast food, or going into some type of college, maybe community or 4-year university.
AJ Walker: Champion says, retail or fast food would not pay as well as gaining his Journeyman’s License, and college would leave him in debt.
Jeremy Champion: Having to repay the tuition, you’re not always guaranteed a spot out there like that.
AJ Walker: By learning a skilled trade, Jeremy says he thinks he will be better equipped to land a good-paying job. Steve Purchase, Communications Director for the MRCC, talks about the investment into this facility that can house about 1500 students.
Steve Purchase, Communications Director, MRCC: We invested $60 million across the state for three training centers. This is the third and the largest of three. This one by itself was over $30 million.
AJ Walker: Enrollment in the apprenticeship program is free, so students don’t rack up debt for their education. They also get paid wages, health care and pension benefits while they learn. And the MRC has ensured that 25% of all incoming first-year apprentices are Detroit residents, over the next decade. Steve Purchase also shows us some of the types of training apprentices can get.
Steve Purchase: So, what you see here is an example of the distribution systems that our apprentices train on and then install in the field. We are standing in what looks like a hospital but is actually a training mockup at our new training center in Detroit. Here, our carpenters learn how to do construction safely in hospital settings.
AJ Walker: And most importantly, it’s all located right in the heart of Detroit.
Steve Purchase: You can’t train if you can’t get to the training center. And so, we’re a bus ride away. We’re in a neighborhood with doors open, ready and willing to accept all who want to walk through them. There has never been a better time for someone to join the construction skill trades.
Between work that’s happening already in the private sector and the historic investment that’s being made in infrastructure over the next ten years, the work is there. And if you’ve got the right attitude and want to get out and work, there’s a place for you to learn right here and to have a great career in the field.
Jeremy Champion: It helps me feel a lot better. It really helps my morale and just helping my community. I like to be an example to the best of my ability, that’s what my father taught me with the church upbringing. So, it’s something that I see myself being a pioneer of, eventually, in time after receiving a Journeyman’s Card, just being a better example for the Detroit residents here.
Subscribe to Detroit Public Television’s YouTube Channel & Don’t miss American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.
Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.