Sunday, February 15, 2015

Apprenticeships are getting another look

Although apprenticeships have longstanding historical roots in vocational education and training, in the United States the concept has remained largely underutilized. Apprenticeship combines on-the-job training and complementary instruction in collaboration with an institution offering technical education or also provided at participating companies. Through an apprenticeship, workers can apply what they learn in practical ways and work on tasks typically carried out in skilled occupations. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and/or employer associations." The concept of apprenticeships is slowly getting another look in recent years and is becoming the object of stories in the public media. As an example, learn more about related developments in the Tampa Bay area as reported on the two stories below.

Tampa Bay Times - February 14, 2014. By Richard Danielson. TAMPA — Terry Shipley was studying business administration at Polk State College when he noticed that acquaintances who had studied the same thing weren't necessarily working in the field. Instead, they had jobs in skilled trades like pipe fitting and electrical work. Shipley, 24, did some research and decided to switch to a five-year apprenticeship program offered in Tampa through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 915. Now in his first year, Shipley is working toward becoming a journeyman wireman capable of making up to $26 an hour in industrial settings. He plans to go back to college once he's done, and the skill should make him "more of an asset." It could even lead to his becoming a contractor. "Right now," he said, "I have a more solid path."

This is the kind of story Tampa Bay area labor unions increasingly want to tell. So they are working to grow programs for apprentices who get on-the-job training, mentoring and classroom instruction while working for a sponsoring employer.

Read the full story on the Tampa Bay Times: Unions ask Tampa to help grow skilled-trade apprenticeships.

Tampa Bay Times - November, 14, 2013. By Ivan Penn. TAMPA — Scaling 45-foot poles with little more than a utility belt and soaring even higher in a cherry picker seem hard enough tasks for an apprentice. Now try it under the watchful eyes of your company's senior executives and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, who visited Tampa Electric's electrical lineman training facility Thursday. "Man, I was watching you," Perez told 26-year-old Jonathan Sanchez after he raced up the utility pole with a 45-pound belt around his waist as if he was just climbing a flight of stairs. "You're fast."

The program was everything Perez, the nation's jobs chief since July, said he had hoped to see on his trip across the country to find programs that train people for middle-class jobs. Apprentices such as Sanchez train to maintain and repair electrical power transmission systems and electrical equipment. After the program, they begin earning about $70,000 a year plus the potential for overtime. The state's third-largest investor-owned utility, Tampa Electric serves 678,000 customers and employs 2,400 workers, including 120 linemen. It is owned by Tampa's TECO Energy.

Read the full story on the Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Electric's apprentice lineman program catches eye of U.S. labor secretary.