Contractors snatch up Independence High School construction trade grads

Michael Ronnebaum
November 20, 2017 - 7:08 am

Independence high school students are learning skills that can help them earn a good living right after graduation.

The Industrial Technology Academy's construction program is in its third year. District students work to remodel and refurbish older homes that would otherwise be eyesores. 

Twice a day more than 30 students meet at two homes purchased by the school district. They do everything from plumbing to concrete work. 

Program director Scott Engleman calls it a win-win for the community and for the students.  

"You also get to see the interest from the students so it's fairly rewarding," Engleman said.

The work does not go unnoticed. The young people who take part in the program are sought by professional contractors.

"Quite a few of my students are actually working out in the trades and I have constant input from the industry and business leaders who are looking for my students," Engleman said.

A typical starting wage for an apprentice in one of the union building trades is $14.50 an hour. After four years they commonly make $28 per hour, which is better than most starting wages for college graduates, and the blue collar workers earn while they learn, without racking up student loan debt.

The school district bought two houses and the sites are within walking distance from William Chrisman High School.

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