BY ERICK ZEPEDA
As the construction trades are faced with both a growing number of retirements and projected growth, there is a strong demand for apprentices to fill vacant positions. With the cost of college attendance continuing to rise, an apprenticeship offers an earn-while-you-learn approach that allows you to get paid from day one.
Certified apprenticeship trainers educate their students in the classroom and on the job as they progress from apprentice to journeyperson. The length and requirements of the program may vary, depending on the trade, but all applicants are required to have a driver’s license, high school diploma or GED and pass a drug test.
Andrew Fuchs, training coordinator for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 137, values the total package for a union tradesperson at $62.50 an hour. This includes an hourly wage between $35 and $45 depending on the trade, health care for the worker’s entire family and a pension plan. Once becoming a journeyperson, the union allows you to be employed anywhere in the country that has a local and all benefits transfer with you, giving you the option to relocate.
For students who decide to attend college in addition to hands-on training, a majority of the apprentice training is eligible for college credit, giving those students a head start on a degree. Many general contractors seek out college graduates with degrees in construction management and engineering.
High school students wanting to pursue a career in the trades can get started early with the new Multi-Craft Core Curriculum training program. The MC3 program gives students the opportunity to learn necessary training to jumpstart a career in the trades through job shadowing and training in areas such as OSHA, CPR and aerial lifts. The curriculum focuses on the construction industry, including tools and materials used, blueprint reading, financial literacy and much more. MC3, a one-semester course, contains 120 hours of training and is offered at Lanphier High School and Southeast High School, as well as Lincoln Land Community College.
On Nov.13, the Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council will host its 2019 Introduction to the Building Trades Apprenticeships and Career Day. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students, parents, teachers and counselors are welcome to attend the informational event at the BOS Center in downtown Springfield. Representatives from different trades will be conducting hands-on demonstrations, as well as educating those interested in a career in trades on the many apprenticeship opportunities and benefits available. Free registration is available through the organization’s Eventbrite page.
Erick Zepeda is an editorial intern with Springfield Business Journal and Illinois Times. He is a senior at DePaul University majoring in communications and media and a recent transplant to Springfield. Contact him at email@example.com.