The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District (MCVTS) is expanding its partnership with the Carpenters Union to offer training to high school juniors and seniors and a path to entry into an apprenticeship program upon graduation.
“It’s a very big, comprehensive partnership,” said Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education. “This gives our students a very good opportunity to get into a great career.”
The program, through the New Jersey Carpenters Apprentice Training and Education Fund, with the support of a federal grant administered by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, will grow in its second year from 21 students from the MCVTS East Brunswick and Piscataway campuses to 25 to 30 students this year from those two campuses and the Perth Amboy campus.
Three 2016 MCVTS graduates were accepted into the Carpenters Union apprentice program.
The students are bused once a week from their campuses to the Carpenters Union training center in Kenilworth, spending a full day receiving instruction and shadowing apprentices in training. The students rotate through a number of areas of instruction, including framing, building concrete forms, installing dropped ceilings, flooring and steel studs, millwright and cabinet-making skills, workplace safety regulations and tool use.
“We always look forward to partnering with vocational and technical schools,” said Ridgeley Hutchinson, executive director of the carpenters training fund. “We know these students have already moved toward a decision to enter the trade. We’re getting them at a great time of life for them and for us. We’re able to mold them into the type of craftsperson we want them to be.”
“This is a great opportunity for our students to gain experience at the carpenters training center prior to graduation,” said MCVTS Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin. “It’s the type of partnership with labor, industry and academia that we’re always pursuing.”
McDonald pointed out that the union is in the process of consolidating its Kenilworth and South Jersey training centers at a new facility in Raritan Center in Edison.
“We’re excited that it’s going to get a whole lot closer and more accessible,” he said.
The district has aligned its carpentry, building trades, building maintenance and theater arts technology curriculums with the Carpenters Union curriculum, McDonald said.
“We have a good number of students in these career majors,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to get into the apprentice program.”