SOUTHFIELD — Myron Brown, a 1997 graduate of Southfield-Lathrup High School, is an apprentice sheet metal worker who is set to graduate from his program in April.
“First off, college is not for everyone,” Brown said. “I was always good with my hands, but I didn’t know how to do sheet work. They teach you everything, and now we’re like pros.”
Brown said he left a higher-paying job to do sheet metal work.
“This is a good way to make a living. Right out of high school you can make $14, $15 an hour, depending on the trade,” he said. “In the long run, it was a better career because it offered full benefits.”
Plus, there is no previous experience necessary to enter the field, and it’s open to men and women alike.
“You see a lot of women in the trade. You might not see them around here, but there are women on every job. They get respect on the job,” Brown said.
Brown was on hand to provide information on his field when more than 40 companies, unions, technical education centers and community colleges gathered for the Build Your Future event Feb. 14 at the Southfield Pavilion.
Southfield Public Schools and city officials teamed up for the career fair, which showcased skilled trades.
Students in grades eight through 12 were invited to peruse the event during the day, and it opened up to the public in the evening.
Attendees were able to explore, engage and interact with experts in skilled trades.
John Dignan, the director of postsecondary options and community partnerships for Southfield Public Schools, said the event helped students to think outside the box. Along with the Southfield Police and Fire departments, careers featured at the event ranged from filmmaking to bricklaying.
“We have a lot of different careers here that kids might not know about, but you can get specialized training in these fields, and it’s not costing you anything. They’re paying you well, you’re going through your training, and you don’t have the debt you sometimes get when you go to a four-year institution,” Dignan said.
Dignan said the event also helped students to figure out their next steps following graduation in the spring.
“What we’re hoping is they realize it’s not too late, especially with our seniors who may be fretting about what is (their) next step and not know,” Dignan said.
Brown said he enjoyed speaking with students from his alma mater.
“It’s a blessing to give back and talk to the kids. A lot of them might not be interested, but it’s something to gear their brains up for what they might want to do when they graduate,” Brown said.
“We really appreciate these men and women taking time out of their busy schedules to create awareness for our students,” Dignan said.