During the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy’s “Constructing Careers” workshop Oct. 27 in Madison Heights, SEMCA instructor John Danick uses a game to explain electrical theories.

During the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy’s “Constructing Careers” workshop Oct. 27 in Madison Heights, SEMCA instructor John Danick uses a game to explain electrical theories.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

SEMCA welcomes educators to discuss ‘Constructing Careers’

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published November 7, 2022


MADISON HEIGHTS — As local manufacturers and business owners continue to look for skilled building tradespeople to work in their shops, educators are finding ways to share opportunities for learning trades with their students.

On Oct. 27, local counselors and career technical educators attended the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy’s “Constructing Careers” workshop.

SEMCA, located in Madison Heights, set up several stations where representatives from various businesses talked about heavy equipment, safety, carpentry, welding, electrical work and tools.

SEMCA provides training to the construction industry’s emerging workforce. Classes offered include electrical, carpentry, welding and heavy construction, as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). SEMCA trains apprentices to work in a wide variety of jobs.

Deanna Morley, SEMCA vice president of education, said the average age SEMCA students used to be 22-27.

“In the past two years, we’ve seen a shift and we’re seeing 18- to 22-year-olds,” Morley said. “That’s an indicator students are on a path from high school.”

The plan is to offer other career events at the SEMCA site so potential students can learn more about skilled trade opportunities. SEMCA has training sites in Madison Heights, Lapeer, Monroe and Adrian.

“We do host field trips for students. The main intent is to get them construction exposure,” Morley said. “We want to educate them that this is a great career path. There’s high growth, there’s a lot of demand and high wages. People can be project managers and work in leadership (roles).”

Macomb Intermediate School District career readiness and counselor consultant Sarah Strohbeck and SEMCA communications manager Kelly Forrester were among the many people who helped organize the tour.

“People aren’t aware of this school. It’s off the beaten path. Counselors don’t always know the process of skilled trades. I wanted them to be able to ask questions. I can tell they’re picturing their students here,” Strohbeck said. “I wanted to create a hands-on (experience) for the school counselors and give them a chance to get into the facility and learn about it so students can consider it. If students want to get into the construction trade, the goal would be to plan a field trip.”

Warren Woods Tower High School counselor Julie Geyman was one of the educators in attendance. She knows of students who are interested in working in masonry, and as steel workers, painters, carpenters and electricians, so she made sure to check out “Constructing Careers.” She also said she would like to set up a field trip so Warren Woods Tower students can tour SEMCA.

“We’re getting so much exposure (to) what skilled trades can offer,” Geyman said. “There is such a high demand for jobs in skilled trades. We need to know more about it so we can share that with the students.”

During the workshop, for instance, Andrew Krawczyk, a representative from Milwaukee Tools, demonstrated how various tools work while on a job.

Linda Cianferra, director of alternative and adult education in the Novi Community School District, came to the workshop “looking for nontraditional opportunities” for students who aren’t planning to attend college.

“I think they did a really nice job of demonstrating what the careers are like,” Cianferra said of the workshop’s organizers. “They seem to be student-centered and very willing to help students. It’s based on what the student’s vision is. I like that a lot. They seem interested in the whole person, which is very refreshing.”

SEMCA is located at 31800 Sherman Ave., in Madison Heights. For more information, visit www.semcaschool.org.