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SPOTLIGHT: Alejandro Gutiérrez, Apprentice

Growing up in southwest Detroit, 20-year-old Alejandro Gutiérrez aspired to work in the construction field but had no idea that his path would lead him to such an exciting project.

After completing a vocational-technical program offered at Western International High School where he attended school, Gutiérrez signed up to become a crane operator’s apprentice.

He completed the initial program and landed at the Detroit Events Center construction project working as an oiler and apprentice for Detroit-based Midwest Steel, which is constructing the new arena’s steel and precast concrete.

“I’ve always been interested in construction,” said Gutiérrez. “So when I heard about these programs I got into it and I’ve liked it ever since.”

The second of seven children, Gutiérrez immigrated to the United States with his family from Mexico as a young child and landed in southwest Detroit, where he lives today.

Gutiérrez spends one week per month in a training center classroom at the Operating Engineers Local 324. The remainder of his time is split between working on the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and fixing up an old house that he purchased in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Gutiérrez plans to take his experience with him even beyond the completion of the new arena in 2017.

“I was so happy to be chosen to work on this project. I am learning so much from the people around me, with a focus on the importance of safety,” said Gutiérrez. “That is always the number one priority day-in and day-out.”

As an oiler on the site, he ensures that all of the cranes used to hoist steel are functioning properly. This is Gutiérrez’s first year as an apprentice. To attain a journeyman’s license, he’ll spend a total of four years as an apprentice learning in a classroom and on the jobsite where he’ll get hands-on experience.

Gutiérrez hopes to have a long career in the construction trades so as to provide for himself and his family.

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