Calhan High School senior Lynda Hannum has been asking her brother to let her weld for years, and she got her chance Friday. Not at home, but at a business-sponsored, hands-on look at electrical, plumbing, welding and construction trades.
“I was so excited to be here,” she said. “I was the only girl out of my entire class who decided to come.”
Lynda was one of 50 high school students from Calhan High, Mitchell High and Atlas Preparatory charter school who got their hands dirty, as representatives from Heating and Plumbing Engineers, Encore Electric and White Construction Group showed kids what a career in trades might entail.
The event was impressive enough to sway Lynda’s mind about her path.
“Most girls are like welding and plumbing are for dudes, it’s not something I want to do in life,” she said. “It’s something that’s fun to know. Being here made me second-guess my future — I’m going to start looking into colleges for welding.”
Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, the event was held as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
Students learned about the advantages of apprenticeship programs, participated in hands-on demonstrations and heard a panel discussion featuring young professionals talking about careers.
Colorado is facing a shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry and related trades, according to organizers.
And high school students are often not aware of apprenticeships, which can lead to high-paying jobs, they said.
Roberto Martinez, a senior at Mitchell High School, said he liked learning how to wire stuff and is interested in possibly becoming a journeyman electrician.
“It was interesting; it showed us the diversity in electrical and plumbing and the opportunities,” he said. “Teachers pressure us to go to college because that’s the way to go, but this part of the industry is dropping because there are so little people going into it.”
Gazette photographer Dougal Brownlie contributed to this article.