Taking a first look at the new Union Skilled Training Center

NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP — For more than a year, construction crews have been working on a brand new training facility for Union Carpenters and Millwrights in Negaunee Township. Now, the 14-month long project is nearing completion.

The $10 million facility, which is approximately 35,000 sq. ft., is just one of the regional investments being made around the state that will provide hands–on training and experience for skilled workers across a wide array of fields.

“So we know that there’s a huge opportunity for thousands of required hands-on skilled tradesman across Michigan,” said Brian Kerrigan, the Regional Director of the Michigan Regional Council for Carpenters and Millwrights. “They see the void to be upwards of 100,000 people that will be needed in Michigan with career ready jobs out there, but a big issue that employers have had is a lot of individuals aren’t career ready yet. So that is our obligation, to get young men and women up to speed with hands-on career trades.”

The building will have designated areas throughout for training, as well as classrooms that will be fitted with state–of–the–art technology. Currently there are around 140 apprentices enrolled through the Carpenters and the Millwrights, and the goal is to be able to expand those numbers with the addition of the new facility.

“The goal here with the new facility, which is about four times larger than our current facility, is to expand and train as many individuals that are needed within our industry,” said Kerrigan, who is also the Chairman of the Apprenticeship and Training Program for the Upper Peninsula. “So our goal is actually, in approximately five years, to get at least 75 to 100 more apprentices engaged in the process. Our ability to train more than a couple of hundred apprentices here will be fairly easily done because of the size and capabilities of the new facility and program.”

One of the main focuses of the facility is workplace safety, and every part of the hands–on areas will feature training on safe work practices to better prepare workers for being in the field. And the facility will not only cater to new workers, but will also be a central location for continual training and learning beyond the apprentice stage.

“Best practices change over time, so it is almost a never ending process,” Kerrigan said. “They start out as an apprentice, learning and practicing basics and fundamentals, safety skills, and productivity. And once they move on as journeymen, they will be continuing to train here, in upgrade training, inhancing their skills as journeymen to perform at the highest level in our industry.”

The facility is in the final month of work, and will be opening up to the first group for training in October.

For more information on how to become an apprentice or to join the trades, you can text “Future” to 91990, or you can click here.