Building Oakland’s Future–Career Fair at Laney College

By Sam Felsing---The people who may build Oakland’s next skyscrapers are likely in the city’s high schools. 

On Friday, March 24, Laney College will host a Manufacturing & Construction Skilled Trades Career Fair for Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) high school juniors and seniors.

The fair will be a hands-on event, meant to give the students a taste of some of the work that Oakland craftsmen and construction workers perform everyday. Employers and unions from local trades will be on hand to talk with kids about careers and apprenticeships in the construction industry. Many of the apprenticeships offered by local unions offer students college credit and on-the-job work experience, and can provide a middle class career path.

“OUSD sees all career fairs as important resources for our students so they can see what could be in their futures. Of course, we want all students to attend and graduate from college. But we also recognize that some young people may see something along the way that takes them in a different direction,” said OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki. 

The school district is helping to sponsor the event, alongside the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda, the Bay Area Apprenticeship Coordinators Association, Cypress Mandela Training Center, and Tradeswomen, Inc. Laney College is generously providing the space for the fair.

Electricians, sheetmetal workers, carpenters, pipefitters/steamfitters, plasterers and sprinkler fitters will be some of the craftspeople who will give demonstrations of their work at Laney.

“Because it is a hands-on career fair, they [the students] will be able to perform, first-hand, some of the skills needed in different trades.  They will be able to build a wooden tool box, a metal tool box, experience how to plaster a wall, use a screw gun to hang drywall, sauder pipe, etc,” said Susie J. Suafai, Program Manager for Tradeswomen, Inc.

Upperclassmen from Bunche, McClymonds, Oakland Tech, Oakland and International high schools, as well as Dewey and Zapata Street academies, will attend the career fair.

“These events are really important, because they give young men and women who may not want to take a traditional education route a chance to see that there are other ways to have a middle class life besides just going to a traditional college,” said Jason Gumataotao of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 595, one of the trades unions participating in the event.

Gumataotao added that with Oakland going through a major building boom, it’s nice to know that there will be kids from the city who will be able to help take part in the area’s transformation.