LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A unique summer camp for skilled trades has wrapped up its first year and is looking to grow. The Tippecanoe Building Trades Construction Council launched the Summer Construction Camp, which aims to address the shortage of tradespeople in Indiana, including welders, pipefitters and others. Council President Stephen Snyder says the demand for trades workers in the nine-county region he represents is the highest he has seen in his more than 20-year career.
The six-week camp focused on professional construction trades, which also includes electricians, plumbers and carpenters, among many others. Some 80 students took part in the camp at no cost to them and had the opportunity to work with veteran trades workers and get hands-on experience.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Snyder said the opportunity to grow the camp is limitless.
"We threw this together, I wouldn’t say at the 11th hour, but maybe at the 10th hour with half expectations," said Snyder. "Within two weeks, it way (exceeded) our expectations. The community’s hungry for it. The city of Lafayette has gotten involved with me. Other entities have reached out and said, ‘You’re doing a great thing; this is awesome’ and our phone’s been blowing up off the hook."
Snyder says one major hurdle to growing the number of skilled trades workers is changing the perception of the jobs, which he says can be highly lucrative for those who take part. "We need to get in front of the teachers, get in front of the parents, and let them know that these are viable, well-paid career paths other than college for the kids."
Snyder says they’ve already seen an impact from the camp, with the council and its joint apprenticeship training committees seeing an uptick in interest from potential tradespeople.