Southern Ill. students participate in construction career expo

Laying the ground work for a better future, hundreds of students will be in Du Quoin this week for a hands-on experience in skilled labor.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 4:43 PM CDT
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DU QUOIN, Ill. (KFVS) - Laying the groundwork for a better future.

Hundreds of students will be in Du Quoin this week for a hands-on experience in skilled labor.

During the session on Tuesday afternoon, September 27, more than 120 students from schools in southern Illinois learned about trades such as ironwork, bricklayers, electricians, laborers, operators, iron, plumbers and pipefitters and more.

“There’s such a need especially right now for construction craftsmen because we have a lot of them retiring,” Donna Richter, chief executive officer of The Southern Illinois Builders Association, said.

Richter said it’s important to educate the youth on their options.

“There’s no college debt for these students,” she explained. “They come in and the fees are all paid by the unions and they work their apprentice programs sometimes 4-5 years long and then when they get done they become a journeyman and they can go out and work for the various contractors.”

Richter said 600 local junior high and high school students will attend the three-day event.

“Come out here, have a good time. They tell you, like, how much money, your apprenticeship, different benefits and stuff. I’m personally interested in the operators Union. We work on a farm and that so I kind of know how to operate,” said Connor Brayfield, sophomore at Du Quoin High School.

Brayfield said this beats a normal day of school.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he added. “I hate sitting in a classroom and, you know, come out and have fun with your buddies and learn a little bit while you’re doing it.”

A group of 8th graders from Elverado Junior High enjoyed learning about all the different careers.

“We’ve gone to a bunch of different stations and it’s just like a bunch of different careers and like we’ve don’t carpeting, welding, sheet metal, bricks, like concrete stuff,” they said.

The training coordinator for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 160 said its important to educate the youth.

“It’s good to see young kids get involved in this type of stuff. Years past everybody’s pushed for college and now a days, like we talked about a minute ago, a lot of your baby boomers, older generations is getting ready to retire and we need people to take those jobs. So the more involvement we get with the youth the better off it’s going to be in our future,” said Bradley Thies, training coordinator for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 160.

This event goes through Thursday for the local schools. If any parents have questions, you can contact Donna Richter at 618-624-9055.