High school students in construction apprenticeship as part of course work

(Photo: WTHR Staff)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Construction classes at Hamilton Heights High School are giving students a hands-on education.

Eric Fisher — known to his students as "Fish" — is the Engineering and Technology teacher.

"Fish has put together a really good program, so it's a great opportunity," Luke Thesier, a high school senior, said.

This program is the first State Earn and Learn Program, or SEAL Program, of it's kind in Indiana. It was developed through a partnership with the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation.

"It's hands on; I'm actually learning stuff I care about," said Max Stallsmith, a high school senior.

The in-class work teaches students the basics of carpentry, where they'll learn things like how to build walls and lay concrete.

In the second semester, of-age students can apply for an apprenticeship. Mr. Fisher connects the students with a local contractor and negotiates a wage, usually around $12 an hour.

Students who choose this path will spend the first half of their day in a traditional classroom setting before leaving at noon for the job site.

Mr. Fisher says it's an important time in our society to reconnect young people with skilled tradesmen jobs.

"The numbers suggest that between now and 2030 over 40% of the skilled trades workforce is going to leave for retirement," he said. "This is an opportunity to get kids connected to these companies and have a meaningful relationship."

The school tells us that the response has been widely popular.

"In the past two weeks, I've had three parents come to the school and speak to me directly about getting their kid involved with this," Mr. Fisher said.

The idea is that if a kid doesn't want to go to college, this program will help streamline them to be ready to enter the workforce after graduation. However, it's also popular among kids who do want a secondary degree.

"I'm going to know a lot about what they're talking about on the first day, and I'm gonna just have a better idea on everything," Thesier said.