When we imagined the West Michigan Construction Institute many years ago,
we knew one of our highest priorities would be launching programming for
high school students so they may explore and connect to the commercial
construction industry. As we near the completion of our first full academic
year of programming, I am delighted to share the impact this priority has had
on the students we serve and the industry we support.
“Construction is a lifelong career and it does require lifelong learning. Every day in construction is learning something new because no project goes perfectly according to plan. There’s always problem-solving and critically thinking. We’re just trying to lift up how amazing and noble it is to be a tradesperson.”
GRPS Montessori High School Senior (WMCI 2023 graduate)
Our work-based learning program took off from there and we welcomed four new school district partners in the 2022-2023 academic year and doubled the number of high school students in our program. This spring, those students will graduate with their NCCER Core and Carpentry I certifications, OSHA 10 certification, and first/aid CPR certification. Many of our graduating seniors already have job offers waiting for them after they conclude their high school careers. One of the most rewarding parts of my career is hearing about and seeing when a student has an “aha” moment about a construction career they are interested in.
Alex, a senior from Kelloggsville High School, said it best, “One aspect I like about the work-based learning program that has made an impact on me is the amount of individuals you meet in the industry and the amount of connections you can make. I have met a lot of great people who I have learned a lot from.”
Continuing our growth and impact is at the core of our work, and I’m delighted to share that we received over 60 applications for our 2023-2024 work-based learning program including two new school district partners. I couldn’t be more excited about the growth of WMCI and the impact this program is having on our region’s high school students and the future of the commercial construction industry.
Whether you’re a school district partner, WMCI student parent or guardian, generous donor, or construction industry partner – thank you for supporting the WMCI work-based learning program and the students who expressed an interest in learning more about our incredible construction industry.
Yours for the construction industry,
Jen Schottke, President
“What advice would you give next year’s class?
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We have seen first hand the positive impacts that solid training and mentorship can have on team members not only at work but also in their personal lives. The work that WMCI is doing to educate each person with the goals of greater community impact speaks to our own personal desires to
invest in the people who work with us and also the community in which we live and work. We have been encouraged by the WMCI students we have met through the program and we are excited for this opportunity to join with you to positively impact the WMCI organization and our greater community through the next generation of construction professionals.
A few things come to mind about what makes WMCI unique. The first is that WMCI values today’s construction workforce as smart – working with both their heads and their hands. Promoting this smart workforce rather than the images from the construction industry of yesteryear will help continue to draw good students into the trades and continue to build respect for those who
choose not to pursue a college degree. Beyond that, WMCI is educating students and opening doors to the opportunities in the skilled trades and leading them not just to jobs, but long term career opportunities.
Clark is a superintendent at Lakewood Construction and a WMCI Carpentry I instructor.
Read more on how Clark went from a high school dropout (he later went back and finished his classes to receive his high school diploma!) to a leader in the West Michigan construction community.