As seen in The Chippewa Herald:
Whether it's plumbers, electricians, masons or any other trade in the construction industry, there's a shortage of people to fill the positions.
Ashley Construction owner Adam Ashley has felt the impact personally. When Ashley was in high school, he and his friends were all involved with in the industry in some way, shape or form. As time has gone by, he feels there has been a disconnect between schooling and the trades.
However, a recent partnership with Chippewa Falls Senior High School is bringing some new apprentices into the field. The school has partnered with the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) to create a Youth Apprenticeship program. It had students working with local companies over the summer to learn more about the trades.
Ashley, president of CVHBA, said the partnership is to generate interest and to give some experience to students in the construction industry. CVHBA has also created a similar program with the Chippewa Valley Technical College since it have also been noticing a shortage of people in its programs.
"They might take different forms or have different titles but there are many efforts taking place across the country to try to get younger people interested in the trades," Ashley said.
In a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders, an estimated eight million jobs were expected to open up in the construction trades. Over 300,000 construction jobs were added in 2014 and over two million craft professionals will be needed by 2017. The entire field is projected to grow 25 percent.
"If you can expose people to it before they take another path, that might be a good thing," Ashley said. "But also to just give them a sampling of it to see if it's not for them."
The apprenticeship program ran for the first time this summer and had students work 450 hours, which gave them high school credit, certificates specific to the apprenticeship as well as a summer paycheck.
The Youth Apprenticeship placed six students this summer between Ashley Construction and C&M Home Builders. Ashley said he hopes to see as much as 30 students come through the program in 2017.
One of the students helping him this summer was Chi-Hi senior Nick Murkley. He heard about the program through one of the construction courses. Since he liked working in construction in the past, he signed up for the program.
Murkley worked doing a wide variety of tasks for Ashley such as framing, siding, putting in windows and the usual clean up at the end of a job. He said he loved the whole experience in general and learned a lot about the field and a potential career.
"It made me realize there's a lot of different things than just construction, too," Murkley said. "It also made me realize that I want to do it for awhile."
Ashley said they didn't have too much time before summer to advertise the new program but hopes to extend the reach of the program to all areas of the Home Builders Association for next year. He hopes to expand to areas beyond Chippewa Falls as well and would like the program to reach the Eau Claire districts, Altoona and other surrounding areas.
"Both state and nationally people are working hard to try to help bring awareness to the (worker) shortage," Ashley said. "And to let people know there's some good income available."
C&M Home Builders and Real Estate is a family-owned Eau Claire real estate agency. Cody and Molly, the founders of C&M Real Estate, started their first business, C&M Home Builders, in 2005 and began building homes in the Eau Claire area. In 2011, they expanded their services to include Eau Claire realty and began C&M Real Estate.