Students get hands-on experience at Building Trades Expo

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Thousands of stateline area students gathered at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Training Center in Rockford this week for the 9th Annual Building Trades Expo. The event gives students and the public an opportunity to get hands-on experience relating to several trade fields ranging from carpentry to ironworking.

Tom Limberis, a senior at Sycamore High School says he's impressed with the event, "It's great to see everything all in one place and learn all about it."

Vice President of Northwestern Illinois Building and Constructions Trade Council John Penney says the event provides a unique opportunity for students.

"What we've been doing over the past nine years is bringing groups of high school kids and middle school kids into one facility to be able to experience hands-on opportunities between ten and sixteen different trade unions," said Penney. Those trade unions included pipefitters, plumbers, and even electricians.

Several of the students say they were attracted to the building trades field because of the financial stability the jobs offer. Many entry-level jobs have hourly wages starting at more than $20 to $30 per hour and you don't need an expensive college degree.

"I think that there's a misconception that the trades don't make a lot of money, but they can make just as much, if not more, and you're not in debt, you know, you learn and earn at the same time. So I think it's just a great opportunity", says Limberis.

The expo continues through Thursday, February 15, from 8:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. and is open to the public. The facility is located at 1117 Tebala Boulevard in Rockford.