Construction apprentice registration open for 1 more day to recruit for big U.P. projects


GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – Operating Engineers 324 apprentice application period is open one more day for Upper Peninsula residents in search of a career.

The application to apply is online, jobs offer benefits, health care and pension.

“Demand for skilled construction professionals, especially for projects slated in the Upper Peninsula, is greater now than we have seen in 70-plus years,” OE324 Training Director John Osika said. “Construction truly is a career of the future, bringing together science, engineering, technology, and math lessons of the classroom with the real-world, in-the-field, hands-on experience of working on infrastructure projects. Our apprentices learn a valuable in-demand skill that they can use for a lifetime, without any student loans or debt, and in fact, get paid while they learn. For anyone interested in a rewarding, good-paying career that allows them to build a prosperous, middle-class life in the Upper Peninsula, now is the best time to get into the professional skilled trades and start a career as an Operating Engineer.”

There are several major construction and infrastructure projects scheduled to begin in the Upper Peninsual soon, including the following:

  • The Soo Locks.
  • Upgrades to I-75.
  • US-41 in Marquette.
  • US-2 in Bessemer.
  • A proposed Great Lakes tunnel.

OE324’s apprenticeship program is developed to meet federal standards and is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprentices are paid while they are learning the job. Operating Engineers have three training sites in Michigan, one in the Upper Peninsula located in Gladstone. The other two are in Detroit and Howell.

Applicants to OE324’s apprenticeship program can become heavy equipment operators or heavy equipment technicians and mechanics. Operators apprentice for three years and 6,000 hours. Technicians and mechanics apprentice for 4 years and 8,000 hours. Apprentices learn in a classroom setting as well as on job sites doing supervised work.

Qualifications for an apprenticeship include:

  • must be at least 17 years of age
  • must possess a high school diploma or GED Certificate
  • must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident in Michigan
  • must possess a valid Michigan driver’s license and have reliable transportation

Applicants can view these and other requirements, including Workkeys test scores, at Applications are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

We spoke with John Hartwell, Outreach Coordinator with the Operating Engineers in Michigan on Thursday. He said these are careers you can stay in and retire with dignity.

“Some of the best things about this career path, we get to work outdoors. We don’t have to go to a cubicle. There’s a lot of good camaraderie in the trades. You work in all different weather conditions which didn’t bother me. But each day is a little different. The best part to me is we build monuments. I still drive my kids by job sites that I’ve worked on and I said I worked on that and they know. There’s a lot of satisfaction in it. That’s for sure.”

The goal is to make sure these jobs go to Michiganders. He said it’s an opportunity to serve your community.

“It’s always nice to work in your community. Even the public works projects. You would see us on any projects from Bessemer to Houghton to St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie. We’re all over the U.P. and it’s always nice to work in your community and say hey, I worked on that project and see the value of it for sure.”

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