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Building the next generation: Carpenters’ union makes donation to woodshop program

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Jerry Yates is passionate about creating good job opportunities here at home, so young adults don’t have to leave the area for work unless they want to. Yates, Senior Representative of the local Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (IKORCC), has worked on the legislative end of things to help create those job opportunities here. For instance he has promoted fair-bidder ordinances in cities and counties across the region, to help make sure local contractors have a fair shot at city and county government contracts, and that contractors working with subcontractors are following all legal requirements in their relationships with them. 

On the other end of the spectrum Yates is working to make young people aware of the opportunities offered by careers in the trades. He recently made a donation of $1,000 on behalf of the IKORCC to the new woodshop program at Carter Christian Academy (CCA). The money will be used to purchase tools for the class. 

Terry Sexton, a Carter Christian Academy booster who works in business development for Cincinnati based fabricator and construction company enerfab, explained that CCA’s relationship with Yates began when the school was putting in their new gym floor several years ago. He asked Yates to come watch the work of the company hired for the job. Yates was impressed with their work and gave a positive report, and shortly thereafter started talking with Sexton about helping the school establish a woodshop class for the school’s high school students. Yates got the IKORCC to donate curriculum and books to the school and James Stafford, the instructor, is a retired IKORCC carpenter. 

Because of this, Sexton and Yates explained, students who start in the woodshop class in tenth grade will be able to come out of high school their senior year and go into an IKORCC apprenticeship program if they choose to do so. 

“Coming out of this program, where you are using our curriculum, you can go directly into an apprenticeship,” Yates said to CCA students currently in the class. He also explained that upon completing the apprenticeship program they would also have an associates degree. 

Yates also expressed how happy he was to see this new program at CCA and in schools in general. 

“These programs at the schools, this is where it starts,” Yates said. Unlike in the past, he said, you don’t have to have a family member in the trade to be able to get into them. 

“We’re out here for you as well,” Yates said. 

Yates emphasized that though he was a union representative, students didn’t have to join the union to go into a trade. But Sexton, who was a boilermaker before retiring and taking on his second career with enerfab, noted that certain union benefits, such as a pension, were worthwhile. He told the kids they might not be thinking about it now, but by the time they were 40, if they stayed with the trades, they’d be happy with the type of pension they could retire with. 

Yates and the IKORCC have also supported youth involvement in the trades through other events and programs. For instance the local IKORCC and Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) have worked together to host the Skills USA competition each year, with events at the union headquarters and ACTC’s Industrial Parkway campus. The Skills USA competition allows high school students from different career and technical programs to compete in carpentry framing, woodworking, electrical, metal work, and other trades related categories. Yates’ union has also made donations in the past to classes at Carter Career and Technical Center. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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