We All Must Help Mentor the Next Generation

Dear Michigan Builder Readers—

I was recently at a Home Builders event and was asked how I got my start in construction. Like most of us in our group, it was because our fathers took us to work and found lots of “grunt” work for us to do. We remembered the lunchboxes and sandwiches that were made, dirty hands, and a lot of clean up. My father also took me to my first homebuilders meeting, and now I’ve had the privilege of taking my son to homebuilder events. Through time, all things change. Because of today’s standards I

would not be allowed on the same construction sites that I was when I was in high school and fewer families rely on construction based businesses for their income.

This months builder magazine is going to highlight Career and Technical Education programs. As you know, Dawn Crandall and the Home Builders Association of Michigan have been very involved with promoting trade training at a State government level for a number of years. We are beginning to see the progress and positive changes that are being made. As a society we need all type of jobs and students need to be prepared for what they have a passion for.

CTE programs for the trades are a way to work with students and the next generation of workers tailoring their education to teach the skills and academics that they will need to succeed. One of the neat parts about learning a trade is that students can decide if this is what they want to do or if something else is a better fit for them. Speaking from experience, I have a son who went to a co-op university and after his first co-op he decided to change his field of study. For the student, it’s a lot better to know if you like doing something before you make an investment or commit to it. Having four Great employees that work with me that were once a part of a High School Tech or Co-Op program, I truly believe in this type of education.

Teaching and learning never stops. If you’re reading this article you are most likely a leader of others. Being a leader means many different things including a responsibility to give back. There’re many ways of doing that and I believe that mentoring the right people will prepare them to eventually take our places.

My challenge to you is to be a mentor teaching the next generation. Education doesn’t stop once somebody starts their first job, we all know it is lifelong. We have the perfect opportunity to grow leaders in the construction industry by getting them involved in local HBA events. I am proud that the HBAM Board of Directors at our winter board meeting decided to allocated money to promote membership with the younger generation in mind.

One more thing about one of my co-op student employee. He once told me how he went to his 5 year High School class reunion. Many of his classmates were talking about their college studies. Mitch’s reply, “I bought a house, how about you”? His ability to go right to work after high school is giving him life-long benefits.

Jack Vander Meulen

2019 HBA Michigan President l