WEST BEND -- If you’re a skilled trades apprentice in the state of Wisconsin, this is your Super Bowl. The Wisconsin chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors held its annual Skill Competition on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
“It’s a great way to kind of test your own abilities and see what you can and cannot do," said Matt Roberts of Rozga Plumbing and Heating.
“The winner here will represent the State of Wisconsin at Nationals," said Bill Rozga, event chair. "This year it’s in Long Beach, California -- so there’s going to be five students heading out there.”
About 35 apprentices from around the state were split up into their five respective disciplines: carpentry, electrical, heating, insulation and plumbing. They had to use their creativity and experience to complete a job in only four hours.
“It’s pretty intense," said Jacob Moody, from Kraemer Brothers Construction. "It’s real hard to finish. Last year I was the only one that finished.”
“It’s a lot to accomplish and there’s a lot of pressure as the clock starts winding down," added Roberts.
ABC of Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program aims to close the skills gap in the construction industry. Students earn money from day one by working for a contractor and getting paid for in-class instruction.
“And the thing about the trades is, we’re always going to need them," Rozga said. "There will always be a need for what these guys and gals are doing."
ABC notes that the median starting salary for a Wisconsin apprenticeship graduate in 2016 was $62,500. But the money and stability aren’t everything.
“When you walk away from the job, you get to see the whole entire building completed and that you were a part of doing that," Moody said. "So that’s pretty cool.”
The satisfaction of a job well done, with or without a trip to Nationals on the line.
CLICK HERE to learn more about ABC of Wisconsin and the apprenticeship program.