Building Trades Bringing Back Shop Class

CANFIELD, Ohio – A partnership with area building trades is giving school districts a chance to re-introduce shop class to their buildings – but this time it could lead students to good-paying jobs out of high school.

The Educational Service Center of Eastern Ohio will receive a $150,000 grant through the Ohio Department of Education’s RemotEDx initiative, funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The dollars will go toward installing shop space in rooms at 10 school districts for a pre-apprenticeship program in partnership with the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, or IKORCC, says Gary Hartman, association services director for The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. The program is part of a partnership between the ESC, The Builders, the carpenters and the Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee.

Other trades are looking to get on board, Hartman says. Another five or six school districts are interested as well, he notes.

On April 14, 25 school superintendents, principals and teachers toured the Ohio Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program in Richfield and saw the type of shop space that would accommodate the training in local school districts.

“For them, it was to get an idea of what an apprenticeship school is doing to give them that hands-on visualization for what a program looks like,” Hartman says.

Getting that many administrators and faculty members out for a tour during spring testing speaks to the level of interest from schools districts, says Robert Eggleston, lead career counselor at the ESC.

Local school districts implementing the pre-apprenticeship program for the 2021-2022 school year include Austintown, Boardman, Brookfield, Canfield, East Palestine, Sebring, Springfield, United, Warren and West Branch.

In addition to the grant funds, the schools are covering much of the cost of the program, Eggleston says.

Some districts, such as Warren and Boardman, have an established shop program and will be adding to it, he says. Others – Brookfield and East Palestine, for instance – are starting shop classes from scratch.

To get the programs going, the ESC is requesting donations of safety equipment, hand and power tools, fasteners, lumber and work benches. The lumber is particularly difficult to come by because of the skyrocketing cost of wood during the coronavirus pandemic, Eggleston says.

Volunteers also are needed to supplement the program from an education side, he notes.

Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can contact Eggleston at

Students in participating school districts will have the opportunity to earn up to 24 industry-recognized credential points through the Regional Council of Carpenters’ Career Connections curriculum, Eggleston says. Completing the program should improve the students’ eligibility for entry into the other participating trades, he adds.

Eggleston expects to see upward of 100 to 150 students graduating high school with a pre-apprenticeship certification that qualifies them for entry into the building trades, he says.

The idea is to ensure students have the foundational skills to be successful when they enter the apprenticeship program, says the Builders’ Hartman. In addition to fundamental skills, students will learn math concepts, as well as safety and awareness skills, “which makes them a more well-rounded candidate,” he says.

Currently, apprentice programs have a 50% to 65% success rate on average. “We hope this bumps it up,” he says. The pre-apprenticeship program is designed to get them ready for more than just the practical work, he notes.

“Showing up to work daily and on time. This will prepare them for that aspect of it,” Hartman says.

Pictured at top: Some 25 school administrators and faculty toured the Ohio Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program in Richfield on April 14 to get an idea of what a carpenters apprenticeship shop would look like. (Image: ESC of Eastern Ohio)