High School Construction Skills Challenge

Construction firms nationwide are having a hard time replacing skilled workers as they retire.

A construction competition on the Northern Michigan University campus is trying to address that need.

Ready, set, build!

High schoolers across the region did that today at NMU in the U.P. Construction Skills Challenge.

It’s a rare chance to take classroom training into the field.

Westwood High School senior Cody Harju says this is his second year in the challenge, and last year, he and his teammates didn’t really know what they were doing sometimes.

But now he says there’s nothing in the challenge that he doesn’t know.

The U.P. Construction Council and NMU’s Northern Michigan Constructors put on the event each year to give high schoolers a taste of the construction trades.

Marquette Senior High School senior Kyle Lancour says he and his classmates have been put to work for Habitat for Humanity building storage buildings for them.

The teams are hammering away at miniature sheds that they get to take home with them.

Local union professionals and NMU construction management students judge the teams on build quality, safety and teamwork.

Chris Singer of Northern Michigan Constructors says they’re 4-foot-by-4-foot sheds and the high schoolers have to follow schematics the judges are supplying them with.

Harju wants to join NMU’s electrical line technician training program next year — a field with huge demand.

Lancour is interested in carpentry.

He says the trades are almost a dying breed but are badly needed.

Events like this may plant a seed of interest in young people to keep the U.P. construction business alive.

The results of the challenge are in.

West Iron County takes 1st, the Delta-Schoolcraft ISD Tech Education Center wins 2nd and Escanaba comes in 3rd.

Congratulations to all 9 teams on a construction job well done.