Student Career Exploration Tour at Ludington Pumped Storage
While many drive by the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant, few know what is going on behind the scenery along the highway. According to Consumers Energy, the immense size of the Plant, and its six-unit turbine design, offers flexibility in balancing electricity demand with electric output at the flip of a switch. On May 16th, 22 junior and senior high school students from Hart, Shelby and Pentwater got an inside look at the plant. The students toured the large scale construction project to rebuild the turbines and learn how several different construction trades organizations work together on a project of this magnitude.
This tour, organized by Oceana College Access Network (Oceana CAN) and the West Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, opened students’ and chaperones’ eyes to a high-tech operation close to home. Students were able to see first-hand the work of operating engineers, electricians, millwrights, pipefitters, laborers, carpenters, painters, motor winders, ironworkers, and more! Industry representatives spoke with the students about their individual paths through education and career training, and the benefits and drawbacks to their trades. Bill Kenney, President of the Trades Council, recognizes the importance in introducing young people to the opportunities available within the skilled trades, “We witness construction everywhere but we don’t focus on the people who do the physical work and the reward, not only in wages and benefits, but the legacy that’s left behind in the impact of a project when its completed.” Kenney continued by stating, “The biggest investment is the investment in oneself to be successful within the construction industry today.”
This tour and other career exploration experiences offered by Oceana CAN! over the past six years, are all part of a program called Students in the Workplace, a half day job shadow in which students engage with industry professionals in Oceana County. Oceana CAN! partners agree that it is vitally important to ensure that the community invest in and support young people in obtaining education after high school. Alyssa Merten, Oceana CAN coordinator, shared the Network vision that, “Together, we can all help our students to access the training and education to prepare for higher paying, in-demand careers that match their skills, interests, and goals.”