As Austin continues growing, the metro will require more skilled workers to build and maintain everything going up across the region. With the goal in mind of introducing the next generation of skilled talent to opportunities in the trades, we hosted the annual Metroplex Career Rally at Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 286 on March 22 and 23 for local students.
Members of six local Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) provided hands-on demos and workshops for 80 middle school and 200 high school students over the two-day event. With thousands of local job openings for occupations like plumbers, electricians, carpenters and more, the importance of growing the next generation of craftspeople becomes more apparent.
“Apprenticeship is very important to our industry. There is no better training model—the hands-on method works great. We take someone who is interested in getting their foot in the door and we get them working and they earn while they learn,” said Joe Cooper, Training Director at Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 286 and a member of the Capital Area Board of Directors.
“The apprenticeship model helps us to renew our ranks and ensure we have the next generation of skilled craftspeople. Apprenticeship lets our contractor partners, our journeymen, and our apprentices give back and have some shape and control over the industry we work in,” Joe said.
Participating students came from campuses in Austin, Del Valle, Manor, and Pflugerville independent school districts. Students with the YouthBuild Austin program at American YouthWorks also joined.
Students learned about eligibility requirements, benefits, and what a typical work day looks like as apprentices in electrical, plumbing, ironworking, carpentry, and sheet metal.
Emanuel Calwac, a senior at Del Valle High School, said, “My favorite thing about the event is all the people who came out to support us and teach us about things we don’t know, like the trades and careers we can choose and all the things we can think about for our future lives.”
Hunter McIntee, a student at American YouthWorks, said, “I’m really interested in these programs, mainly the carpenters program. I want to see where I can get my foot in the door with that and make huge steps toward my future goals and career.”
Additionally, career and education outreach specialists with WFS Capital Area hosted a workshop on career exploration utilizing tools created by the board and the Texas Workforce Commission to help students plan and budget for their adult lives.
The event concluded with Julian Alvarez, Commissioner Representing Labor for the Texas Workforce Commission, speaking about the opportunities the students had explored: “What I see here in this room are future employers. With your initiative and the skills you will gain in the trades, you will own your own business one day.”
For Hakim Budillo, a senior at Del Valle High School, his plans are set: “My plans for the next couple years are to be a welder here at Local 286.”
Workforce Solutions Capital Area helps young people complete their education in order to find and retain employment. Learn more at Climb the Ladder CTX.