MPS helps students explore future careers with first Building Trades Career Fair

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As high school juniors and seniors prepare to hit the point of the semester where they will have to make some big decisions regarding their future, the Milwaukee Public Schools system is aiming to help provide more opportunities with the district's first Building Trades Career Fair.

"There's a lot of opportunities for young people and we want to make sure that every career pathway is made available to our young people," explained MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley. "The future of this city is bright. You see young people walking through with excitement on their faces about what needs to happen, where they need to go; career pathways."

Over 200 MPS juniors and seniors had the opportunity to attend the fair, speak with industry experts and learn about potential jobs and apprenticeships in fields including masonry, electricity, construction and plumbing.

According to Milwaukee's Building-Construction Trades Council, carpenters made an average hourly wage of $67.33 last year. Plumbers made an average wage of $77.03 and electricians made $70.58 per hour.

Brandon Neddef works for the Carpenters Training Institute based in Pewaukee. He says career fairs like the one hosted by MPS not just important for the students, but the industry as a whole.

"We have too many people retiring and not enough people coming in," Neddef explained, citing a worker shortage that's impacting industries throughout the United States right now. "Presenting these opportunities to the youth, to MPS, to the whole nation is crucial to keep our society up and running."

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson echoed the remarks from both Dr. Posley and Neddef.

"Milwaukee Public Schools partnering with the building and construction trades presents a great opportunity for us to build a new economic foundation for the city of Milwaukee," the acting mayor said. "We're probably not going to have the breath of manufacturing jobs that provided, once upon a time, a strong quality of life for people but particularly people of color in our city. We need to find a new way forward to do that."

Marquis Brisco II is a 2021 MPS graduate and currently works in carpentry as a registered apprentice with MPS. He's hopeful that the students will keep an open mind when exploring a future in the trades.

"I didn't want to go to college, but I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what I wanted to do," Brisco II explained, adding that it was a guidance counselor who suggested he look into a possible career in the building trades. "A year ago, I didn't know what the trades were. Half these kids here don't know what trades are, and that's what I'm here to do. Talk to these kids and let them know, try it."

For more information about a future career in the building trades, visit the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council website here.

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