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Breaking the Higher Education Barrier: JP Cullen Taking Steps to Promote Careers in the Trades

Katie Muth

The perception for many students, parents, and administrators is that a four year college degree is preferred to any technical college or work in the trades after completing high school, yet the reality is with the growing demand for skilled labor, combined with the rising cost of higher education, a future in the skilled trades is a bright one not to be overlooked. The talent pool in the construction and trade industry is drying up, yet the demand for skilled trades in Wisconsin is predicted to increase 18.81% over the next several years. With this need for talent identified, JP Cullen, along with over 20 school districts throughout southern Wisconsin, have been working to combat the perception that the trades aren’t a noble profession offering competitive salaries and professional growth.

Joe Schwengels, Construction Superintendent and Apprenticeship Committee President for JP Cullen, said, “By forming the apprenticeship committee at JP Cullen, we have made it a priority to work with surrounding school districts to educate them on the careers available in the trades for students. With a state accredited apprenticeship, students have every opportunity for a successful, noble profession as a skilled trade worker. That is how I began my career over 25 years ago.”

JP Cullen will be hosting the first annual “Construction Career Fair” at their Janesville headquarters, 330 E. Delavan Dr., Janesville, April 30th from 9:00am – 3:00pm. It will be a hands-on opportunity for interested students to learn more about the fields in the construction industry through mock-ups and hands-on demonstrations, and speak individually with apprenticeship recruiters from the local building trades unions. Contractors throughout Rock and Dane Counties were invited to participate in the event.

“We wanted to create a different approach to the career fair setting where students could benefit from interactive areas and get their hands dirty. Our goal is to raise awareness for the trades, which is why we have partnered with some of the area’s finest mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and plumbing trades. This effort stemmed from a long-term commitment that JP Cullen has made to better our industry.”

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April 9, 2024