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Workforce Wednesday: Joshua Middleton taps Michigan Reconnect to find new career in construction

Sept. 29, 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.

Joshua Middleton worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years when the COVID-19 pandemic hit that industry hard.

“Like so many others, I started doing construction projects at my house and really liked doing it,” he said. “I had been thinking about a career change for a while when I heard about the Michigan Reconnect program, so I contacted GRCC.”

Michigan Reconnect is a new state financial aid program for Michiganders 25 or older without a college degree. This program provides eligible students with tuition-free access to pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate at their local community college.

“I just started looking through all the programs offered to see what interested me and landed on the Residential Construction Job Training Program,” he said.

GRCC offers two 18-week Job Training Certificate programs in the field of Construction; Residential Construction, and Construction Electrical.

The Residential Construction program takes place at a construction site, where students build a new home. Students get hands-on learning and application about the entire process of residential building including blue print reading, site layout, concrete, carpentry, door/window installation, roofing, siding, and interior finishing.

Graduates are qualified for employment in the residential construction industry. The program focuses on constructing homes that achieve a 5-Star Energy rating, are Michigan Green Built, and LEED Certified.

“I didn’t know anything about construction prior to this program,” he said. “I just had the tools that I use at home for my home projects. It’s really valuable to do the learning with your own hands. I think it really speeds up the learning process. The fun part was learning all of the processes behind everything we do.”

Middleton will complete the program in a month and plans on getting his builders license right away. Then he’ll get to work building his skills and will see where he'll from there.

“A bonus is that I often worked second shift before so I missed a lot of time with my two boys but now it is so nice to be home in the evenings!” he said. “You can’t replace that.”

GRCC offers other industry certifications including; Carpentry Certification 1, Commercial Construction, Lead Abatement Training, and the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program.

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at workforcetraining@grcc.edu, and by phone at (616) 234-3800.

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