Union breaks ground on skilled trade center in Wayland

Wayland Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center
A sign bearing a rendering of the Wayland Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center sits on the site at 700 Reno Drive in Wayland. (Oct. 23, 2017)


WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — While the weather could’ve been better, Monday’s official groundbreaking on a skilled labor training center couldn’t have come at a better time.

In an effort to combat a serious skilled labor shortage, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights turned the dirt on a 67,000 square-foot training center in Wayland, located on a nearly 20 acre site just east of US-131.

For the industry, the training center is much-needed. Experts say about 6 million construction jobs are unfilled right now and about 60 percent of contractors are looking for workers.

“After that eight-year downturn, a lot of people left the trade. And there was about an eight-year hiring freeze, if you will,” explained Mike Jackson of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

“The industry as a whole definitely needs more people,” added Jason Worthing of Schweitzer Construction.

The worker-starved state of building trades is also affecting the bottom line.

“Now you’re trying to give a project to an owner in a certain window. And if you don’t have the trades or people, already have their full capacity, pricing goes up,” Worthing elaborated.

The new training facility will provide hands-on learning for union carpenters and millwrights throughout West Michigan, and participants pay as they learn.

“In other words, we don’t charge you to come to this school. You’re actually working for our contractors and you’re getting paid,” Jackson said.

“We’re going to be partnering with local school districts and local vocational eds and trying to get as many people as possible interested in a career in the building trades,” he added.

The Wayland Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center is expected to be complete in about a year.