GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Plumbers, pipefitters and construction companies just cleared the pipeline to create the Western States College of Construction: a collaborative program for workforce education. The WSCC reimagines education through apprenticeships, but this new school is not just a hands-on program.

“The students are employed while they’re in our programs so they’re earning a salary on average across all over our programs is $50,000 a year,” Rocky Mountain MCA’s Dave Davia shares, “They pay nothing for school, they pay some nominal book fees and/or supplies anywhere from zero to three or four hundred dollars per year, depending upon the program.”

The majority of learning happens on the frontline where employers sponsor each student. The process builds a pipeline of talent while students tap into opportunity as apprentices.

“Construction doesn’t just measure up to a quality use of education but also a promising career and industry,” Cora Dickey reports, “If you’re unsure construction is a fitting career for you, the Western States College of Construction has a virtual way you can check out the field before the first day of school.”

Right now, the average student enrolled is 26 years old but men and women can start right after high school. This new college of construction offers well rounded options for high school graduates.

“We’ve been telling kids you (the students) need to do some kind of training after high school but it could look very different for different students,” Grand Junction High School Counselor Lori Plantiko discusses, “Now, we have a college for all the trades; we can help students with the application process let them know the requirements and get them into a field that they can enjoy while earning a paycheck.”

WSCC intends to grant associates degrees to graduates, coupled with stackable credentials and certifications.

Davia says 27 percent of college graduates work in the field their degree applies to. The employment placement is close to 100 percent for the construction industry and these apprenticeships across the state.

WSCC has partnered with the American Council for Construction Education, the only construction management accrediting organization in the United States, on apprentice programs.