Classroom Victories: Building Trades Partnership

By: Lauren Kravets
By: Lauren Kravets
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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Not every student chooses the same path after they graduate high school, some go to a traditional college, others may select a career right out of school. And a local trades council is helping students with the immediate career approach.

Jefferson High School sophomore Marco De Paz likes to work with his hands. He takes wood shop, metal shop and drafting classes.

"I've just been a hands-on kind of guy like when I was small I would help my uncle at his construction company, so since elementary school I would go help him out," said De Paz.

De Paz says this kind of a help is rewarding. Electives like wood shop give students hands-on experience to give them a taste in fields like manufacturing and construction.

Those are the kind of jobs Brad Long president of the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council is trying to get students interested in. The council recently held a career expo to expose students to different trades.

"We try to infuse examples of algebra, math and geometry into each trade, letting the kids know that it's important to pay attention in high school because there are opportunities for you, but you need to have some skills before you knock on our door, said Long.

Long hopes high school grads knock on his door for an apprenticeship. The four-to-five year program is free for students and gives them hands on experience, classroom instruction and a traditional college alternative.

De Paz believes trade council partnerships with schools are imperative.

"If a group like that doesn't reach out to the kids then I'm pretty sure the job rates are going to go down for working hands on."

The trades council will take about 50 apprentices this year. The local trades unions are taking more apprentices this year than in the past, since the economy is picking back up. The council works with eight local counties so kids in other school districts can apply for apprenticeships.

For more information on how to apply visit

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