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Wisconsin students attend Construction Trades Career Fair | Blue Collar

Story By Kyle Pozorski
Local News Published 10/13/2021 6:20PM, Last Updated 10/13/2021 6:51PM
Rothschild - Students from across northcentral Wisconsin gathered in Rothschild on Wednesday for a job fair centered around trades union jobs. The NorthEast Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council hosted the annual fair.

Ted Gumieny, business development liaison of the NorthEast Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke to Newswatch 12 about the overall goal of the job fair. 

"Our goal of the event is to get young people in the union building trades and see what the opportunities have to offer. These are great wage-sustaining careers with excellent benefits." 

Gumieny says that having local schools on board with the event is crucial to getting young adults interested in the trades.

"The schools are very supportive of what we have to offer here today. And the counselors, the feedback that we got back from the tech teachers-- everyone involved very much appreciate what we're doing and bringing awareness to what the opportunities are in these trades," said Gumieny. 

Craig Wagner, from Local 18 Sheet Metal Workers of Wisconsin, said that reaching out to today's youth is a large part in sustaining their workforce.

"As you've got other members who are retiring, you've gotta bring the youth in as it's nice to have the youth with the experienced journeymen and -women, and as they retire they retain that knowledge in the trade," said Wagner. 

Wagner and others at the event agree that blue-collar work is fun and rewarding.

Kelsie Rigney, a recent high school grad and current sheet metal apprentice said, "I feel like the trades is where it's at. You need to be hard working, you need to have some math skills. You know, you need to be smart but you need to be able to do the job," said Rigney. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the percentage of Wisconsin employees in unions has dropped since 2010, but those at the event overwhelmingly believe that the trades are here to stay.  "It's always going to be that we're going to need trades, skilled tradespeople, to be able to take care of the work," Gumieny said. 

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