Omaha-metro high school students get hands-on training in trade careers

This is Valley Corporation’s second annual equipment rodeo.
For years there has been a shortage of skilled workers to pave roads, install utilities, or run heavy equipment.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 7:42 PM CDT
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VALLEY, Neb. (WOWT) - A contractor in the metro is giving high school students a chance to check out the trades.

Valley Corporation in Valley, Nebraska is promoting the trades by giving high school juniors and seniors a little hands-on training. There are close to 80 students representing about a dozen area high schools.

The students get a chance to test drive some of the tools of the trade, this is Valley Corporation’s second annual equipment rodeo. Officials are hoping this event sparks an interest in the trades.

“We do need people to work in the trades every year it continues to get tougher and tougher and tougher to find the people and the professionals to get the work done that we need to do,” said Matt Bevington.

Matt Bevington is the CEO of Valley Corporation and he says getting into the trades right out of high school can help some people go right to work and not worry about racking up student debt.

“It’s good that they can hop right in get a high-paying job with great benefits almost all the contractors around have great health insurance, great 401k benefits, retirement plans bonus plans, and vacations,” said Bevington.

“Oh yeah, I just brought a truck here last weekend and I’ve only been working here for three months,” said Cox.

Wyatt Cox was one of the students participating in this event a year ago. Now he’s working here and satisfying his parent’s wishes at the same time.

“Mom and dad always told me I had to do a trade or go to college or something I decided to get a job here and I’m going to college at the same time, so it’s going pretty good so I’m doing welding in college right now,” said Cox.

Eli Ambriz is a student at DC West and his classroom is the inside of an excavator.

“You get to see a whole lot of stuff you usually don’t get to see like around regular working areas, you get to go outside a little bit more you get to meet a lot of new people, especially hopping from site to site and different places,” said Ambriz.

Officials point out that work in the trades involves a lot more than labor and operating machines.

A contractor in the metro is giving high school students a chance to check out the trades.

“There’s so many things behind the scenes that are involved with operating a construction company, we’ve got mechanics, we’ve got welders, we’ve got accounts we’ve got safety personnel, we’ve got computer 3D modeling,” said Bevington.

This hands-on experience has many of the students impressed by the opportunities provided by working in the trades.

“It’s got me leaning more to want to go towards the trades because I know they bring in really good amounts of money, there’s always going to be a place to work in trades,” said Ashton Scott.

Bevington says this event opens a lot of eyes and he says with the wages and benefits that are offered getting involved in the trades is more than a job.

“These are careers we have people that have been with us for 20-30 years and you can make a career out of it and start literally at the bottom and work your way up all through an organization if you’re passionate about it,” said Bevington.

Eli is also considering working in the trades. Today’s test drive just might have pushed him in that direction.

“Differently pushing for like the trades and stuff in that area, I like tuition how it’s a lot lower than what a four year would be you get a lot of hands-on experience,” said Ambriz.

Bevington says this program is all about promoting the trades and working against the shortage of workers in the field.

“For us, this isn’t about recruiting students to Valley Corporation but it’s about making awareness about the trades, and if they can go work at another contractor that’s great too,” said Bevington.

Students do compete in competitions using some of the equipment and they have a chance to win prizes on top of a chance to take a look at a career in the trades.