Building Advantage News

Labor and Management Come Together in Youth Apprenticeship

December 29, 2017
By: Anna Molinaro

It wasn’t too long ago that PMC/SMACCA hosted a speed interviewing session for area high school students interested in the skilled trades. Over 50 students attended the session, all hoping to be chosen for a year-long Youth Apprenticeship. Five students were eventually hired on by PMC/SMACCA’s contractors along with labor partners from Local 601.

Now, more than halfway through the program year, the Youth Apprentices have learned important soft skills that can translate to any industry and they’re connecting their school work to the jobsite and vice versa. Perhaps most important, they’re finding they’re strengths in the workplace and what it is they are most passionate about.

Take it from Gaven, a YA from Brookfield East High School who has been working at Total Mechanical, “I’ve learned so many different things. How to talk to customers and what to look for and fix on an A/C unit has been a great experience. It has definitely impacted my life and opened up my eyes for the trades. I’m highly considering this as a career.”

Programs like this allow students to gain a better understanding of the construction industry. Whether they become tradespeople themselves or pursue a different career path, allowing them the opportunity to explore the trades gives them an appreciation for what the construction industry does every day. An appreciation that they will carry with them and pass along to their family, friends and peers. Just take it from Gaven’s employer, Total Mechanical, “Our Youth Apprentice, Gaven, is proving to be an excellent employee. He is punctual, considerate and a hard worker. Although we have assigned him a variety of work, he’s spent most of his time with a single Mentor in the field. We continually receive very positive reports which made Gaven’s first progress review a pleasure to facilitate,” says Jack Schirpke, Vice President of Environmental Services Division at Total Mechanical. “He’s made a great impression so far and we see no reason why he wouldn’t be offered an apprenticeship once he has completed high school. Gaven is on the road to a great career and Total Mechanical, Inc. is happy with their choice to be a part of this progressive program that gives youth an insight into the trades. Not everyone is suited to be a service technician or construction worker but what a great way to find out if it’s the right path for you.”

Students participating in the program this year attended a 40-hour employer paid work-ready training at Local 601 which included OSHA 10 and First Aid training. Students and employers worked to establish mutually amicable summer hours and revisited the work schedule once the school year began. By being released from school during part of the day, YA students are using that time to work in the field, earn school credit, make money, and be exposed to real-world work experiences.

If you are interested in becoming involved in youth apprenticeship or just learning more, please contact Dajen Bohacek, Associate Director for the Plumbing Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors’ Alliance at or 414-543-7622 ext. 255.

Current Participating Schools: Brookfield East, Oak Creek, Arrowhead, New Berlin, Brown Deer Current Participating Employers: Total Mechanical Inc, Dairyland Energy Solutions, Grunau Company, Mared Mechanical Contractors Corp.