Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and their Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA) further supports Michigan contractors with an additional training program for interested high school students. First a little history, Wolgast was one of the founding contractors to bring the local ABC Chapter to the Saginaw Valley Area in 1977. Six years later ABC started the Merit Shop Training Program, now known as the GMCA, to train construction workers on skilled trades. They started by provided training for a variety of construction workers. Until recently, their traditional student has been the adult learner taking evening classes. In 2011, ABC expanded from the Saginaw Valley Chapter to the Greater Michigan Chapter, and included a total of 23 Michigan counties.
In 2012 to prepare for a forecasted labor shortage, GMCA started their relationship with area high schools to target and develop students who weren’t interested in pursuing a college degree. College preparatory courses had become more common in schools and little focus was made to promote the trades as an option. GMCA leadership started in Midland County by meeting with local School Superintendents to develop inclusion of the curriculum for students more adept to construction. With the approval of the School Superintendents, GMCA moved ahead with a beta daytime program to meet the needs of Junior and Senior level students. The training is the same NCCER curriculum requirements as GMCA’s evening programs. NCCER is a non-profit, accredited, internationally standardized education foundation founded by leading construction companies. They offer educational materials, accreditation, instructor certifications, and skills assessments. GMCA took on Junior and Senior level students and developed a pathway for a four-year craft training education.
Over the past 8 years, GMCA has developed their formal skilled trades training program with an emphasis on safety through 14 high schools and trains at 22 locations. They are currently expanding their Lansing academy to add carpentry training at that location, hopefully this fall. Furthermore, they offer 11 trade specialties to study, and it’s no cost for high school Juniors and Seniors. Better yet, students are able to transfer to any of NCCER’s 325 training facilities and their accreditation is recognized in all 50 states. The Academy is giving students the ability to prosper in a worth-while career without the high financial debt of colleges or universities and do it anywhere they want to live.
The program starts in the student’s Junior year and by the time they graduate high school, they’ll have completed 2 years of the 4-year curriculum, again, for free. GMCA also provides job placement and résumé assistance, so the student can achieve their hands on training hours with a company specialized in their field of study. The remaining 2 years of class levels or modules do require a paid tuition, but there are scholarships available, and there have been many students hired before the program is complete and their employer has paid their tuition.
Total Graduates: 2,000
Number of Trades Offered: 11
Placement Rate: 100%
Partnerships with School Districts: 14 High Schools
Current Enrollment: 600 apprentices
Contractors throughout Michigan, Wolgast included, are appreciative that ABC and GMCA is helping to prepare inclined people with the right skills and safety education for construction employment during a labor shortage. It has been a big undertaking to develop the new program’s logistics and get the school districts on board, but now they have momentum and are adding more schools and more students ready to make a start toward their careers. They still maintain their original program for non-high school students, too.
Programs offered include carpentry, electrical, HVAC, industrial maintenance mechanic, instrumentation, insulating, ironworking, pipefitting, plumbing, sheet metal and welding. More information can be found at www.gmcami.org.