Seniors Visit Pipe Fitters Union

Seniors Visit Pipe Fitters Union

By: Amanda Del Buono, Tinley Junction
here for the original article. 

College isn’t for everyone, and as a young adult, it can be intimidating trying to figure out what to do after graduating high school. To help his students make that difficult but incredibly important decision, Tinley Park High School automotive technology teacher Mark Moberg has tried to educate them about the variety of opportunities available to them after high school that are right in their backyards. 

For the past 18 years, Moberg has brought groups of students to a variety of trade schools and organizations in the area to give them a first-hand account of potential career paths outside of college. With graduation quickly approaching in just a few months, he recently took 13 students to the Pipe Fitters Union Local 597 Training Center in Mokena. 

“I teach primarily seniors, and it’s getting to be that time where they need to make some decisions, and most of the kids in my automotive classes, they’re not probably going to college,” Moberg said. “So, I just try to show them some of the other options out there, like the Pipe Fitters. I take them to UTI, which is an automotive school...I just do it when it gets this time of year.”

The trip to the Pipe Fitters Union included a 90-minute tour of the training facility. During the tour, Adam Sutter, admissions director for the Pipe Fitters Union, walked the students through the state-of-the-art training facility, showing them both the building trades and HVAC wing, he said. Throughout the tour, the students were able to see apprentices on the floor practicing the trade, actively welding and fabricating at the facility. 

“He showed all of the stuff that they’re going to have to learn to be a member of the Pipe Fitters,” Moberg said. “He showed what was involved in the welding class and the heating and air conditioning classes. So, he really gave them a good tour, and he didn’t hold anything back with how difficult some of the training is.”

Throughout the tour, Sutter explained to the students the process and expectations the union has set for applicants to the local union and apprenticeship program, Sutter said. 

This first-hand experience with the trade makes the best impression on the students, said Sutter, who gives tours to many high schools in an effort to encourage students to apply for the union’s apprenticeship program.

“The building sells itself, it’s a state-of-the-art facility, it’s massive,” Sutter said. “So, seeing that and actual equipment and machinery and the guys working, I mean that really sets that hook. Going to a high school and talking to them about it, I could give them a lot of detailed information, and that works, at least they understand it, but seeing the facility itself, it’s amazing. They’re really kind of like, ‘Wow, I had no idea.’ Talking about it doesn’t really do it any justice really.” 

This isn’t the only vocational opportunity Moberg is trying to show his students this year, he said. 

Several of the trips focus on automotive trades and build on TPHS’ automotive program, which gives the students hands-on experience repairing community members’ cars free of charge, Moberg added. 

To the students, these trips offered valuable information about these potential career paths as they prepare to make some important decisions. Moberg said that a percentage of the students who take these trips end up in the unions or at the trade schools he took them to visit. 

Hoping to be among those, Tyler Hall, an 18-year-old senior from Oak Forest, has actively begun looking into joining the Pipe Fitters Union when he graduates in a few months. 

“I feel [the trip] was very beneficial. It’s better than being in the classroom. They teach us to go to college, but college isn’t for everybody, and there’s different outlets where you can make more money than people who go to college and have benefits,” Hall said. “You just have to go and learn some certain things. They don’t teach us these things in the classroom.” 

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