Project: Accelerate! helps Michigan women enter skilled trades


(Photos courtesy of Operating Engineers 324)

Fifteen women recently climbed aboard the "big toys"-massive cranes and excavators- at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center to try their hand at one of Michigan's most crucial and skilled construction professions.

The group of women was completing week four of a seven-week course called Project: Accelerate! The cutting-edge program is aimed at helping women explore careers in construction by providing seven, eight-hour sessions in different skill areas.

For their fourth week, Operating Engineers 324 provided the opportunity for participants to gain hands-on experience with the heavy machinery that operators use every day to build Michigan's roads and bridges at their Howell training facility. These tools, sometimes called the "big toys," include cranes, excavators and other heavy equipment. The Howell facility is a 555- acre, world-class equipment training site with modern and technical classroom facilities.

"The demand for highly-skilled workers in Michigan is high and growing," said Lee Graham, director of Labor Management for Operating Engineers 324. "The Operating Engineers are proud to help encourage and train the next generation of female operators, and provide opportunities for women across Michigan interested in the building trades to get their start."

Project: Accelerate! is a free, seven-week program that exposes women ranging from entry- level workers to CEOs to careers, opportunities and options in engineering, construction, trades and design industries. Women who are interested in a particular area can move into an apprenticeship after completing Project: Accelerate! The program is sponsored by a coalition of more than a dozen trade unions, colleges and businesses.

"Women are just as interested in careers in construction. The Construction industry brings women the closest to parity in earning potential. We, as an industry, need to be innovative and look at underrepresented communities, and that means women," said Rita Brown, founder and national director of Project Accelerate! "This is all industry funded. We build that pipeline connecting people to opportunities with the cooperation of our partners. We help ourselves to move forward."

In addition to Operating Engineers 324, sponsors, participants and supporters include:

- AGC of Michigan.

- The National Association of Women in Construction Detroit.

- Lawrence Technological University.

- Mechanical Contractors Association of Detroit.

- JJ Barney Construction.

- Commercial Contracting Corporation.

- La Sed Inc..

- The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Detroit.

- Iron Workers Local 25.

- Sheet Metal Workers 19.

- Marble Mechanical Service.

- Eagle Specialties LLC.

- Spalding DeDecker.

- Construction Association of Michigan.

- Hubbel, Roth & Clark Inc..

- Wayne State University.

- Oakland Community College.

- Great Lakes Engineering Group.

Published: Thu, Jun 22, 2017