Skilled trades in high demand - WNEM TV 5

Skilled trades in high demand

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Drew O'Keef said college wasn't for him, so he turned to the skilled trades.

"The industry is booming," O’Keef said.

And he said there aren't enough qualified people to fill all of the jobs available. That means jobs and plenty of opportunities that don't require a four year degree.

"It's a great opportunity... it's a great foot in the door," O’Keef said.

He insists the best way in is a trade school like the one he graduated from and now teaches at, the Greater Michigan Construction Academy.

On Tuesday in Midland, the GCMA unveiled its 11th program, welding complete with a state of the art welding lab.

Jason Johnson owns a local contracting company.

"Very excited to see what happens with it and where it goes," Johnson said.

He's in Midland because he said there's a huge demand to fill jobs, but those jobs require the right education. Which, he said, is one that gives hands-on experience.

The four year skilled trades program at GMCA is designed for students looking for jobs or employees looking to advance their careers. Gov. Rick Snyder as well as President Barack Obama have both emphasized the need to develop a strong skilled trades labor force.

GMCA's director of education Stephanie Davis said in Midland County alone, the industry is in desperate need to develop those skilled workers.

"The need for skilled trades workers in the area is in high demand," Davis said.

It's estimated that more than seven million employees work in commercial construction or industrial jobs, but with many high school students choosing the traditional route to college, industry experts predict jobs will be hard to fill.

Jobs that O'Keef said pay well and, in his case, pays for education. His advice: get schooled in skilled trades.

"It will lead to good things... I believe," O’Keef said.

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