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Construction Building Trades Program Encourages Students to “Trade Up”

April 15 2008

Construction Building Trades Program Encourages Students to “Trade Up”

Business and Labor Partner for Ground Breaking Program

For Release: April 15, 2008
Contact:
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group, 505-898-8689
Steve Crespin, MESA Program, 505-341-9033

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Businesses and Labor Unions are partnering together to generate awareness for careers in the building construction trades through the Mechanical Electrical Sheet Metal Alliance (MESA). The Mechanical Contractors Association of New Mexico, Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 412, New Mexico Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 49, National Electrical Contractors Association of New Mexico and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611 launched the program to focus on those currently in high school or those lacking formal apprenticeship training in the construction industry.

The “Trade Up” campaign is based on a philosophy that each individual has the opportunity to improve their position in life. This is achieved through personal coaching, learning new skills and giving back to the community. “Just as someone can ‘trade up’ from go carts to NASCAR, or flag football to the NFL, students have the chance to ‘Trade Up’ their position in life with a career in the building and construction trades,” says Steve Crespin with the MESA program and the Mechanical Contractors Association. “Students can “Trade Up’ without incurring tuition and can earn up to $26 per hour once they become a Journeyman.”

Research has shown that peer groups and school-based role-models make up over 75 percent of a student’s overall decision. MESA is partnering with parents, teachers and counselors throughout the state, to ensure that students are informed about vocational opportunities while in school. Currently, K-12 education initiatives focus primarily on college preparation, leaving students highly unaware of vocational training opportunities. The role of the high school counselor has primarily focused on college entrance counsel rather than offering vocational careers as options for students. As a result, students interested in vocational studies have been left to fend for themselves.

In the Albuquerque Public Schools, for instance, vocational programs were diminished when they were shifted from middle and high schools into the Career Enrichment Center. Recognizing this issue through initiating discussions, APS has taken action to create an Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing Alliance for students. This alliance will result in the development of a career path, leading more students toward two-year programs at New Mexico community colleges offering vocational studies.

The awareness program includes an interactive website (http://www.tradeupnm.com), complete with video podcasts as well as information uniquely designed for students, parents and educators. There are also printed materials for educators as well as a brochure for students and parents. “The program has been very well received by school counselors in the Albuquerque Public Schools and Las Cruces Public Schools,” says Tom Garrity, with The Garrity Group Public Relations, that is overseeing this initiative. “Awareness around the state has been very positive as school districts request materials and presentations. It is clear we’ve tapped into a real need as students are looking for ways to earn immediate income while working on premier projects around our state.” Students can also earn an Associate’s degree alongside their apprenticeship training.

By partnering with schools throughout the state, MESA hopes to promote the construction industry, generate more interest in apprenticeship programs and promote membership in these respective unions. Union apprenticeship programs are sponsored by the industry and offer valuable skills training. Employers, unions and employer associations fund the majority of costs incurred by apprenticeship programs. Apprentices earn wages for on-the-job training, also contributing to New Mexico’s economy in the process. In addition, every dollar invested in these programs generates about $13 of tax contribution.

About MESA
MESA is composed of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New Mexico, Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 412, New Mexico Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 49, National Electrical Contractors Association of New Mexico and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611 launched the program to focus on those currently in high school or those lacking formal apprenticeship training in the construction industry.

MESA is launching a statewide campaign in an effort to promote the building trades, generate more interest in apprentice programs and to promote membership in respective unions. For more information about MESA call (505) 341-9033 or visit http://www.TradeUpNM.com.

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