Students get apprenticeship through tiny house project

Sadie Layher, Staff Reporter

One of the last thoughts by millennials as a vocational option is apprenticeship. The first instinct of students is to go to a college or university to get a safe career. However, college is not the only way to build a future.

Dr. David Strubler of Oakland University created a program called the Tiny House Apprenticeship pilot in August 2017 to teach a group of inexperienced men to create something with their hands. With direction, they created a fully functioning tiny house with no experience using power tools.

Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County’s workforce development for Michigan Works!, also played a part in Strubler’s project. Both have similar philosophies regarding the lack of teens choosing to go into plumbing, electrical and construction-type jobs.

Llewellyn said she is “passionate about individuals that are here to learn and earn” at the Tiny House Apprenticeship.

In regards to the tiny houses, it took roughly three months for five 20-23 year old men to complete one full house. The house itself was a 28-foot and 304-square foot tiny home and each man was exposed to the different trades.

“Under the direction of Father Shaun LeDuc, a bi-vocational Anglican carpenter/priest, the young men were exposed to carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, siding, flooring, insulation, painting and the like,” Strubler said.

With some apprenticeships, Llewellyn stated, people can learn and earn while working on their projects.

“For the past 10 years, Oakland County’s Michigan Works! program has been identifying and promoting 60 apprenticeship programs in southeastern Michigan including the construction trades, manufacturing, medical, information technology and service,” Strubler said.

Slowly but surely, the labor workforce is appealing to more high school graduates. This being said, they will have the opportunity to make salaries of those who spent four years at a university according to the “Good Jobs Project.” According to the project, there is a high chance of making a median salary of roughly $50,000 without needing a bachelor’s degree.

“We need to educate parents and students that there are more options than just college,” Llewellyn said.

College is a great thing if there are certain careers a student is extremely passionate about such as education, theatre or nursing programs that are at Oakland. School is challenging and is not made for everyone, for those who feel this doesn’t really fit their lifestyle, then trade skills may be a good starting option.

Currently there is a project in the works for creating multiple tiny houses on a lot in order to build a tiny community. Llewellyn was filming Strubler’s project for a documentary on trade workforce jobs and options and what could come from them.

“I am currently in conversations with a builder who is planning to purchase a number of lots nearby on which to build a tiny house community that involves apprentices,” Strubler said.

Each of these houses would be built solely built by apprentices and the hope is that it would act as affordable housing in Detroit.

University is ideal for some, but trade skills are just as important.