Technical Education Post

News and Information for Technical Educators

Grand Rapids Community College Workforce Training

Four months ago, Ben Mast didn’t have any of the skills or knowledge required to be an electrician. Fast forward and next week he will begin his career as an electrical apprentice.

“I had been going to Grand Valley for a couple of years and was studying business. Then classes moved to all online because of COVID,” he said. “At that time, I was working full time and I just liked working more than school. I heard from a friend who went through this program and it sounded like a sweet gig. Less school sounded like a sweet idea for me just because I wasn’t having a whole lot of fun. I signed up for the waitlist and started just before Christmas. It’s been a blast!”

GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. We are introducing students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates

The GRCC Construction Electrical Job Training program provides the basic knowledge and skills required to be placed in an Electrical Apprenticeship program in just 18 weeks of training.

Mast started the program with no experience in this field.

“I feel like most of the students don’t have any experience when they started. I’m super grateful to have Doug (Wiersma) as my instructor. He is super knowledgeable. He’s got an answer for everything and he also makes it super fun!”

Students participate in job site, lab area, field trip and classroom settings. Learning is hands-on in all areas of electrical installation including employability skills, construction and electrical safety, hand and power tool safety, electrical math, electrical history, electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, electrical material identification, blue print reading, underground installations and residential/commercial wiring.

Mast came into the program at the same time as five other students.
“Because we all started at the same time, there is a competitive aspect to it,” he said. “It’s always a challenge to see who is doing it faster, better, getting stuff to work the first time. We’ve grown pretty close in the past four months. It’s been really fun to be doing it with your buddies.”

An electrical apprenticeship with Windemuller Electric is next for Mast. Once graduates of this program are hired, they may register with the State of Michigan as an Apprentice Electrician. The 18-week Job Training program covers the first year of training in the four-year apprenticeship.

“The work is satisfying and fulfilling. I feel like this program is preparing me and making me feel a little bit better about going into a field I’ve never worked in before. It’s been my favorite school I’ve ever gone to.”

According to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, there will be 16 percent job growth annually in this field from 2012 to 2022. Average wage per hour is $23.78.

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