May 17, 2016
ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lynn Tech student Gregory Cooks sets up his surveying equipment for his oral demonstration at the school.
BY THOR JOURGENSEN
LYNN — Gregory Cooks is studying metal fabrication at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, but he sees his future in construction.
Cooks and 15 other Tech seniors spent last week studying the trades. They learned about building culverts and walls under the eyes of Massachusetts Construction Career Development Program instructors.
Experienced tradesman Tommy Lemon demonstrated how to set bricks in a round concrete drain to build a trough capable of channeling water through pipes. He also told the students how a laborer’s apprenticeship can lead to a $21 an hour job with generous benefits.
“One thing I stress is good work ethic and safe work practices,” he said. “Show up on time and be physically and mentally prepared to work at least eight to 10 hours a day.”
Cooks is considering construction apprentice opportunities Lemon and co-instructor Andy Kuzmich outlined for the students.
“It gave me a clear idea of what I want to do career-wise,” he said.
Kuzmich said students interested in construction following the Tech orientation course will be invited to take part in a three-week apprentice course sponsored by New England Laborers.
Tech is one of 15 Bay State schools to host the construction career development program sponsored by the Department of Transportation and New England Laborers’ Training Academy, a group affiliated with building unions.
Kuzmich said an older construction workforce is prompting state and union officials to find students interested in the work. The program’s goal is to attract 300 students annually to the trades.
“I wish this was around when I was in high school,” he said.
Richard Wall, Tech’s construction department head, said Cooks, fellow seniors and a small group of juniors were chosen to participate in the orientation because they expressed an interest in construction work and are dependable.
Senior Enderson Mejia helped build an interlocking stone wall, a miniature version of giant walls designed to keep hillsides from sliding onto roads. He plans to study engineering next year at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. But he enjoyed learning the detail work involved in professional construction.
“You don’t want anything to be crooked,” he said.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at email@example.com.