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Workforce Wednesday: Derrick Peoples gaining in-demand construction skills leading to a rewarding career

April 14, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. Each Wednesday we’ll meet students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

At 50 years old, Derrick Peoples wanted to help his daughter. She has just recently purchased her first home -- a fixer-upper. While working in manufacturing product and assembly, he saved up enough money to cover expenses for the four months he would need to enroll in the Intro to GRCC’s Construction Job Training Program.

Peoples was somewhat intimidated when he first started the class, but said professor John Doane has been incredibly supportive.

“The first couple of tests were challenging!” Peoples said. “John is an amazing teacher, probably the best I have ever had. He really makes sure I get it. It has been along time since I have used fractions and formulas. John takes his time and explains the math in a bunch of different ways until something clicks and you get it.”

“I love working with my hands. It’s creative and I get to put my own touch, my own style on my work. It’s very rewarding because my work benefits others.”

The GRCC Introduction to Construction Job Training program focuses on the fundamental skills needed for entry into the construction industry. Many technical skills are required for an individual to be successful in the construction industry. To be most effective in today's construction industry you should be able to perform blueprint reading, shop math, communication and teamwork.

GRCC has a reputation among employers for supplying work-ready individuals. Several students who recently completed the Introduction to Construction Job Training program are working in the industry making more than $20 dollars an hour with benefits.

In the hands-on construction lab, students build a scaled down version of a house -- a shed. The structures have already been purchased by an actual customer.

The program teaches basic safety, construction math, hand and power tools, print reading, floor systems, roof, wall and ceiling framing, roofing applications, stairs and drywall, basic electricity and electrical safety, residential wiring, cabinet and counter top making.

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at, and by phone at (616) 234-3800. Additional information is at

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