H.J. Martin at educational forefront to combat labor shortage
Faced with the same labor shortage as many construction-related companies, H.J. Martin and Son is aggressively involving itself in educational opportunities to address future employment needs.
The most recent initiative is the WORX class at West De Pere (Wis.) High School. Open to any interested freshman, sophomore or junior student at the school, WORX (West De Pere Occupational Research and Xploration) is intended to expose students to multiple construction-, manufacturing- and transportation-related trades. Throughout the semester, a variety of career areas are explored, including a related, hands-on activity or project.
H.J. Martin and Son Foreman Bruce Litke recently spent two weeks in the WORX classroom of 19 students. He assisted the students with units on steel-wall framing, drywall installation and finishing, as well as ceiling systems.
“Hands-on experience is key to this program,” says Chris Glinski, Tech Ed Teacher at West De Pere High School. “The reaction of the students to what Bruce was teaching them was impressive, and it exposed them to a whole new field that they previously didn’t understand. We really appreciate the partnership with H.J. Martin.”
Glinski added that one student, after the first day H.J. Martin had been in the classroom, remarked to him that what he had learned was “awesome” and that he might want to pursue a career in drywall.
Agenda 2017 of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is a series of initiatives that support college and career readiness upon completion of high school. West De Pere High School implemented the WORX course in an effort to give its students hands-on exposure to potential career paths outside of a four-year college.
H.J. Martin Vice President of Field Operations Ryan Foley proactively initiated the idea of coming into the classroom through dialogue with the West De Pere Technology Education Program. After putting the specifics into place and securing the needed materials, the company’s initial involvement came during the second trimester of the 2015-16 school year.
“By providing students with a meaningful, hands-on experience, we hope to plant a seed early that there are high-quality jobs within the construction profession,” says Foley. “H.J. Martin has a number of highly skilled employees who have been with the company for decades, but who we expect will retire in the coming years.
“We are looking to build our next-generation workforce, and the best way to do that is to expose students to who we are and what we do.”
H.J. Martin will be returning to the West De Pere classroom during the third trimester, which started on Feb. 29, 2016.
Tags: Agenda 2017, Bruce Litke, ceiling systems, Chris Glinski, drywall installation, H.J. Martin and Son, labor shortage, Ryan Foley, steel-wall framing, West De Pere High School, West De Pere Technology Education Program, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, WORX