In November, a group of students from Lee’s Summit North High School learned how they could make more than $80,000 a year after high school without incurring student loan debt. STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council hosted nearly 20 students to teach them about the union’s apprenticeship program. Tina Chace, the Director of Business Development for the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, helped arrange the meeting.
“Businesses across all industries are in fierce competition for highly-trained and skilled talent. And they will pay to get it,” Chace said. “It’s important that students understand there are many pathways to financial success and union training programs are a great option.”
The four-year union apprenticeship prepares students for careers as carpenters, lathers or pile-drivers. Students work for a union-approved contractor, who pays them for their work at the union base rate of $19/hour. The work is done under the guidance of a journeyman, who teaches the student the skills of the trade. In addition to the on-the-job training, students are also required to attend a total of four weeks of class each year. By the end of the training program, graduates have earned a journeyman title, guaranteeing an hourly wage of $39.58.
“If you want to work hard, learn a skilled craft and make some good money along the way, there are career paths available to you,” said the program’s lead instructor, Kevin Wilcoxon.
Michael Hilbert is the head of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program at Lee’s Summit North. Hilbert said many of his students, especially seniors, are looking for opportunities immediately after graduation.
“The students really enjoyed the event. They were excited to hear about the job opportunities and they were impressed with the training they could receive at this facility.”
Senior Anna Day attended the tour. She said she is not sure what career she wants to pursue after high school, but would consider carpentry.
“It would be new and neat to at least give it a try,” Day said. “Their program is free and it pays good money with great health benefits.”
Wilcoxon warned students that the program was rigorous, but he believes it’s worth it.
“You are going to do something to make a living, so why not choose a path that will provide a good wage, insurance for you and your family and a pension that will be substantial enough that you will not need a part time job?”