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Milwaukee-area Summer Trades Institute

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

More than 50 students from the Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Muskego, and Whitnall School Districts participated in a week-long Summer Trades Institute through a partnership with the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council.

The institute took place June 18-22 and offered a variety of hands-on learning experiences for students interested in learning more about careers in the trades. Learning opportunities were held at training centers of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494, Plumbers Local 75, Bricklayers (BAC) District Council of Wisconsin, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, and Steamfitters Local 601.

student welding
Students practiced welding at the steamfitting training center

Because of the predicted shortage of skilled trade workers, several retired professionals from the trades volunteered to provide various learning experiences for students in hopes of passing on the trades. Activities included viewing a “day in the life” of an apprentice video, introductory demonstrations, and plenty of hands-on practice for students to work with the necessary tools.

The Summer Trades Institute gives students another avenue to explore their career options. Leaders from the Building Construction Trades Council, including Dan Large, John Zapfel, and Dean Warsh reached out to superintendents from the five participating districts to help plan the institute.

Dr. Tony Evers touring the program
State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers toured the electrical learning center

“We understand the importance for each student to follow a post-secondary path that meets their interests and abilities,” said Dr. Gary Kiltz, Superintendent of Greendale Schools. “College has many definitions today and may mean a four-year, two-year, technical-certificate, or trades-apprenticeship program. One of our jobs as educators is to introduce our students to the multiple ways to support a successful and enriching life after they leave high school. It is up to schools to help students explore every possibility. That is a goal of this program.”

Another goal for the program is to provide similar opportunities for more schools during the school year, particularly for those that do not have shop classes or have reduced offerings over the years. These opportunities can build students’ interest and skills, leading up to the next institute.

students using tools
Students worked with tools at the plumbing training center

The Summer Trades Institute and subsequent offerings during the school year provide a glimpse of what these types of careers might mean for some students. Administrators and leaders from the trades will continue to build capacity for these types of learning experiences, providing another path for students to pursue.

For more information regarding the Summer Trades Institute, contact John Zapfel, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 494, at, or Dr. Gary Kiltz, Superintendent of Greendale Schools, at