Industrial Trade Career Day

America’s work force in building-related trades is aging.

There are more skilled people leaving the business than there are young people entering it.

The U.P. Construction Council, Michigan Works!, local labor unions and other agencies get together in Iron Mountain today.

They’re showing 400 high school students an up-close look at what working in a construction-related field might be like someday.

It’s Industrial Trades Career Day at Mountain View Ice Arena.

Dickinson and Iron County students, and some from northern Wisconsin, got to participate in hands-on demonstrations of trades work.

But some of them missed out on the one that attracted the most attention — welding.

Vincent Webb of Iron Mountain High School didn’t get to try his hand at welding but liked what he saw of other kinds of metalwork, like working with rebar that reinforces roads and bridges.

Some girls are interested in the trades, too.

A pair of friends from Norway High School seem to prefer a trade that’s a little less intense.

Marisa Hicks thought she liked the bricklaying demonstration, but she found welding a bit scary.

Allison Bellaire came into the career day wanting to lay bricks, and she likes the creativity that can be involved with that.

The trades on display inside and out ranged from electrical line technician training to hazardous materials processing in confined spaces.

Tony Retaskie of the U.P. Construction Council says national trade studies find the trades need 200,000 new skilled employees per year — for the next 10 years at least — to replace retirees.

Hopefully, when more senior tradespeople retire, the younger generation will be ready to follow them and keep the industry going.