We here at MSM appreciate the opportunity given to us by The Sugarloaf Region Charitable Trust.

The Trust is a private, nonprofit trust, dedicated to improving the quality of life for the communities that make up the Sugarloaf area. The trust provides financial assistance to organizations with nonprofit, tax-exempt status. The goal of this assistance is to encourage the growth in existing human service and cultural organizations and to develop new organizations that will involve and improve the Sugarloaf area.

The Trust was established in early 1984, when the employees of Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation began contributing on a volunteer basis to the Trust through a payroll deduction program. These contributions were, and continue to be, matched by Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation. Additionally, proceeds from the annual Sugarloaf Marathon and Winterkids Downhill 24 are contributed to the Trust. The Trust currently donates more than $44,000 into the community each year.

Donations were made to the following organizations in 2017:

• Kingfield POPS
• Flagstaff RSU – Stratton School
• Kingfield Elementary School
• Phillips Public Library
• Webster Library
• Western Maine Center for Children
• Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society
• Town of Carrabassett Valley Rec Dept
• Stratton/Eustis Food Bank
• Stratton/Eustis Recreation Program
• Town of Kingfield, Bike Trails
• United Way of the Tri Valley Area
• Maine School of Masonry
• New Portland Community Library

 

Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University

Garret Morgan (center) is training as an ironworker near Seattle and already has a job that pays him $50,000 a year.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

 

Like most other American high school students, Garret Morgan had it drummed into him constantly: Go to college. Get a bachelor’s degree.

“All through my life it was, ‘if you don’t go to college you’re going to end up on the streets,’ ” Morgan said. “Everybody’s so gung-ho about going to college.”

So he tried it for a while. Then he quit and started training as an ironworker, which is what he is doing on a weekday morning in a nondescript high-ceilinged building with a concrete floor in an industrial park near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Morgan and several other men and women are dressed in work boots, hard hats and Carhartt’s, clipped to safety harnesses with heavy wrenches hanging from their belts. They’re being timed as they wrestle 600-pound I-beams into place.

Seattle is a forest of construction cranes, and employers are clamoring for skilled ironworkers. Morgan, who is 20, is already working on a job site when he isn’t at the Pacific Northwest Ironworkers shop. He gets benefits, including a pension, from employers at the job sites where he is training. And he is earning $28.36 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year, which is almost certain to steadily increase.

As for his friends from high school, “they’re still in college,” he said with a wry grin. “Someday maybe they’ll make as much as me.”

Raising alarms

While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor’s degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.

But high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy.

“Parents want success for their kids,” said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. “They get stuck on [four-year bachelor’s degrees], and they’re not seeing the shortage there is in tradespeople until they hire a plumber and have to write a check.”

Ironworkers practice tying rebar at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

 

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor’s degrees.

Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

“There is an emphasis on the four-year university track” in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven’t earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

“Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need,” Cortines said. In spite of a perception “that college is the sole path for everybody,” he said, “when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you’re paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration.”

And it’s not just in Washington state.

Seventy-percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America; in Washington, the proportion is 80 percent.

There are already more trade jobs like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe-fitting than Washingtonians to fill them, the state auditor reports. Many pay more than the state’s average annual wage of $54,000.

Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be a need for new plumbers and new electricians. And, as politicians debate a massive overhaul of the nation’s roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.

“The economy is definitely pushing this issue to the forefront,” said Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which educates students in these fields. “There isn’t a day that goes by that a business doesn’t contact the college and ask the faculty who’s ready to go to work.”

In all, some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don’t require bachelor’s degrees, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Yet the march to bachelor’s degrees continues. And while people who get them are more likely to be employed and make more money than those who don’t, that premium appears to be softening; their median earnings were lower in 2015, when adjusted for inflation, than in 2010.

“There’s that perception of the bachelor’s degree being the American dream, the best bang for your buck,” said Kate Blosveren Kreamer, deputy executive director of Advance CTE, an association of state officials who work in career and technical education. “The challenge is that in many cases it’s become the fallback. People are going to college without a plan, without a career in mind, because the mindset in high school is just, ‘Go to college.’ ”

Matthew Dickinson, 21, asks a classmate for help as they rebuild an automatic transmission in an auto repair technician program classes at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

It’s not that finding a job in the trades, or even manufacturing, means needing no education after high school. Most regulators and employers require certificates, certifications or associate degrees. But those cost less and take less time than earning a bachelor’s degree. Tuition and fees for in-state students to attend a community or technical college in Washington State, for example, come to less than half the cost of a four-year public university, the state auditor points out, and less than a tenth of the price of attending a private four-year college.

People with career and technical educations are also more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.

Young people don’t seem to be getting that message. The proportion of high school students who earned three or more credits in occupational education — typically an indication that they’re interested in careers in the skilled trades — has fallen from 1 in 4 in 1990 to 1 in 5 now, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Washington is not the only state devoting attention to this. California is spending $200 million to improve the delivery of career and technical education. Iowa community colleges and businesses are collaborating to increase the number of “work-related learning opportunities,” including apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships. Tennessee has made its technical colleges free.

So severe are looming shortages of workers in the skilled trades in Michigan that Gov. Rick Snyder in February announced a $100 million proposal he likens to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.

At the federal level, there is bipartisan support for making Pell grants available for short-term job-training courses and not just university tuition. The Trump administration supports the idea.

For all the promises to improve vocational education, however, a principal federal source of money for it, called Tech-Prep, hasn’t been funded since 2011. A quarter of states last year reduced their own funding for postsecondary career and technical education, according to the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education.

The branding issue

Money isn’t the only issue, advocates for career and technical education say. An even bigger challenge is convincing parents that it leads to good jobs.

Darren Redford, 20, looks to his instructor after completing a connector mockup drill at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

“They remember ‘voc-ed’ from what they were in high school, which is not necessarily what they aspire to for their own kids,” Kreamer said.

The parents “are definitely harder to convince because there is that stigma of the six-pack-totin’ ironworker,” said Greg Christiansen, who runs the ironworkers training program. Added Kairie Pierce, apprenticeship and college director for the Washington State Labor Council of the AFL-CIO: “It sort of has this connotation of being a dirty job. ‘It’s hard work — I want something better for my son or daughter.’ ”

Of the $200 million that California is spending on vocational education, $6 million is going into a campaign to improve the way people regard it. The Lake Washington Institute of Technology changed its name from Lake Washington Technical College, said Goings, its president, to avoid being stereotyped as a vocational school.

These perceptions fuel the worry that, if students are urged as early as the seventh grade to consider the trades, then low-income, first-generation and ethnic and racial minority high school students will be channeled into blue-collar jobs while wealthier and white classmates are pushed by their parents to get bachelor’s degrees.

“When CTE was vocational education, part of the reason we had a real disinvestment from the system was because we were tracking low-income and minority kids into these pathways,” Kreamer said. “There is this tension between, do you want to focus on the people who would get the most benefit from these programs, and — is that tracking?”

Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, says, “There isn’t a day that goes by that a business doesn’t contact the college and ask the faculty who’s ready to go to work.”

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

In a quest for prestige and rankings, and to bolster real-estate values, high schools also like to emphasize the number of their graduates who go on to four-year colleges and universities.

Jessica Bruce followed that path, enrolling in college after high school for one main reason: because she was recruited to play fast-pitch softball. “I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

She never earned her degree and now, she’s an apprentice ironworker, making $32.42 an hour, or more than $60,000 a year, while continuing her training. At 5-foot-2, “I can run with the big boys,” she said, laughing.

As for whether anyone looks down on her for not having a bachelor’s degree, Bruce doesn’t particularly care.

“The misconception,” she said, “is that we don’t make as much money.”

And then she laughed again.

Taylor Fawcett, 23, moves a column during a connector mockup drill at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

Maine School of Masonry receives hand carved stone, appears in national magazine

By Ramona du Houx

In January, Rich Ciarcia, a board member of the Maine School of Masonry, presented a hand carved stone that reads, Maine School of Masonry to the founder of the school, Stephen D. Mitchell. Ciarcia meticulously carved the inscription, and is a graduate of MSM. The monument will be displayed in the entrance of the school and serves as a testament to the craftsmanship the school inspires.

“It was such a wonderful surprise,” said Mitchell, the school’s founder and director. “We never expected it and are humbled by Rich’s commitment to our school.”

Recently, state Rep. Tom Saviello hosted Mitchell on his local Mt. Blue T.V. show “Talkin Maine,” to get the word out about what the Maine School of Masonry has to offer students who want to succeed in the craft. There is a shortage of masons throughout the United States. A 2015 study by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 55 percent of masonry contractors reported having trouble filling jobs.

Click here to see the show: http://www.mtbluetv.org/program-talkin-maine.html

The Maine School of Masonry has been teaching students for more than 13 years, training future masons in the timeless art. The school also lines up jobs for graduates at nine businesses. Their unique Historic Restoration and Preservation program takes students to work on sites listed as National Registered Historic buildings. Currently these classes are working on restoring Fort Knox near Prospect and the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta.

Chandler Ellis is currently enrolled in the school’s historic restorative masonry program. Ellis is taking advantage of work opportunities provided by the school, earning $18 per hour while learning on the job.

“It makes me proud to think I can make a difference restoring a 200 to 300 year-old building, so it’ll be here for future generations,” said Ellis.

The on-the-job learning experience for students at these historic landmarks is unsurpassed as they’re trained by master masons, who have years of experience and insights into the craft that they are willing to share. It’s the only course of its kind in America.

The M.S.M founder Stephen Mitchell on local T.V

 

The school’s programs have become nationally known and an article, “Rebuilding the Masonry Labor Force: Good wages. Excellent job prospects. Opportunities to earn while you’re in training,” by Jim Cook appeared in the Pro-Masonry Guide magazine. To read more please follow the link: http://promasonryguide.com/rebuilding-the-masonry-labor-force/

For more information about the school please visit: www.masonryschool.org

2 Responses »

  1. So glad the Maine School of Masonry is getting some good recognition. It is quite a place. Steve is a great
    instructor too. I have seen some of the learning projects at the school, and they are wonderful.

    Congratulations Steve.  Carol MC

  2. An amazing program, a dedicated leader and a wonderful opportunity for those interested in learning and preserving this skill. It’s a win-win for all…the students learn and the buildings stand tall for a longer period, allowing future generations to see and preserve our history…I’m glad and proud that Steve Mitchell and the Maine School of Masonry chose Avon for it’s home.

Maine School of Masonry receives hand-carved stone, is on TV

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AVON — Rich Ciarcia, a board member of the Maine School of Masonry, presented a hand-carved stone that reads “Maine School of Masonry” to the founder of the school, Stephen D. Mitchell in January.

Ciarcia, who meticulously carved the inscription, is a graduate of the school. The monument will be displayed in the entrance of the school and serve as a testament to the craftsmanship the school inspires.

Maine State Rep. Tom Saviello hosted Mitchell on his local Mt. Blue TV show, “Talkin Maine,” to get the word out about what the Maine School of Masonry has to offer students who want to succeed in the craft.

The Historic Restoration and Preservation Program takes students to work on sites listed as National Registered Historic Buildings. Currently these classes are working on restoring Fort Knox near Prospect and the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta.

For more information about the school, visit http://www.masonryschool.org.

Daniel Wuorio at work repointing at the Kennebec Arsanel copy

Daniel Wuorio is at work repointing at the Kennebec Arsenal.

Masonry promotes healthy lifestyles

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.29.08 PM

By Dori James

If you enjoy weight lifting, functional fitness, and an overall sense of accomplishment, Masonry is a great career path. Masonry requires good physical health— key to longevity in the profession.

Masons have been around for hundreds of years building structures that stand the test of time. In order to stand the test of time as a mason you need to keep yourself in top physical condition.

The scope of masonry requires, climbing, lifting, squatting, pushing, pulling, balance, and endurance. Masonry has gotten a bad rap for the stress it puts on the body, but if the mason takes physical fitness seriously and works at it masonry can be a satisfying healthy career and a lucrative one.

Many people spend time at the gym to achieve the physique that a mason comes by naturally doing the day to day physical labor that is required. Exercise is not only important for your heart, lungs, and muscles, but also for your brain. Research shows that exercise can help keep your mind sharp, promote feelings of alertness and well-being, and wards off depression and anxiety. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that leaves people feeling happier and more relaxed.

On a day-to-day basis for a mason the work is the exercise. It is also what a mason does while he or she is off the job that makes a difference, eating right, keeping hydrated, a good workout program, and a series of stretching exercises are vitally important for the profession of masonry.

Many masons graduate and go on to starting their own business, there are many benefits to that as well. Owning your own business is a satisfying and great for your mental health.

  • You get to make the decisions,
  • You get to build something,
  • You get to help people,
  • You have the option of a more flexible lifestyle.
  • You can find your own work/life balance,
  • You choose the people you work with,
  • You can challenge yourself,
  • You can follow your passion,
  • You can connect with your clients,
  • You can give back to your community,
  • You feel pride in building something of your own and
  • You just might change the world.

Masonry gets you out from behind a desk and a sedentary lifestyle.

Using your creativity is healthy for the mind! It relieves stress, increases and renews brain function, can help prevent Alzheimers, and improves one’s mood.

There can be nothing more creative than a beautiful stone or brick fireplace! People don’t look at the electrical work or the plumbing in a house. They tend to gravitate toward the beauty of masonry.

Masonry is a great career choice. I highly recommend it.

Dori James