Last summer, the International Training Institute (ITI) trustees approved a measure to allow the ITI to award grants to unionized sheet metal training centers that need to train members in a skill not taught at that location in the last two years.
Grant awards ranged from the standard — equipment for an already-constructed TAB lab, computers and software for a CAD lab and service training unit — to the creative, a tiny camera that fits onto the head of a welder.
In Central California, increasing demand and pressure to teach testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) is due to the work taken by out-of-town and non-union contractors because there isn’t local talent to complete it. Also, if the training is available, contractors may be more inclined to pursue TAB bids.
“If there is no manpower to do the work, no one will pursue the work,” said Brian Hill, training coordinator for Local 104, District 3. “So, if we start with the training, we’re hoping local contractors will pursue it. It’s a ‘Field of Dreams’ if-we-build-it-they-will-come sort-of thing.”
Although Local 104, District 3 built the TAB lab, it was taking time to save the money for the equipment needed to operate it.
“I think these grants were geared for programs like us,” Hill added. “Without this, we would be teaching it a year from now instead of starting our first TAB class in a couple weeks. So, we’ve accelerated everything by about two semesters.”
In Rochester, Mark Miller arrived two years ago as training coordinator to find five-year-old computers and outdated software and contractors in need of detailers. The grant allows him to purchase seven student work stations, an AutoCAD subscription and the supplies and instructors to operate 112 three-hour courses. The projected man-hours generated by the new laptops 12,000, Miller said.
“We were in dire need to offer that program,” he added. “Recently, we have had considerable increase in demand for detailers from numerous signatory contractors of ours. This clarifies to me more members would allow us to introduce detailers to smaller contractors or contractors who use office help to prepare drawings currently.”
Hill used the installation of the equipment in the new TAB lab as a learning opportunity for apprentices. Mentored by retirees, apprentices completed installed controls and created fittings to make it all come together.
“It was a team effort,” Hill said. “It was kind of neat everybody pulled together for it.”
Local 17 in Boston applied for funds to purchase a demonstration display system — or the tiny camera mentioned prior — including a MeltTools MeltView APEX2 Camera and an Epson PowerLite 700U 4000-Lumen WUXGA Ultra-Short Throw Laser Projector.
The camera provides clear, magnified views while mounted to various torches, making it possible to show and record circumferential welds. The projector allows an instructor to go over the weld in detail for the entire class at one time. This decreases the number of bad habits formed while students are waiting their turn for individual demonstrations and lessens the amount of wasted time during class.
“Demonstrations have always been an important part of vocational learning but are only effective if the trainee has a clear, unobstructed view and are more beneficial from the first-person perspective,” said Daniel Flynn, Local 17 welding instructor. “When training is at its best, the students are more receptive to the teachings, and the industry as a whole benefits.”
Grants submitted to the ITI trustees are awarded for up to 50 percent of the cost of equipment and/or training supplies, or costs to provide new training will be awarded up to a maximum grant of $20,000. Although payback to the ITI isn’t required, it is mandatory for recipients to specify the number of training hours and provide proof of that training, attendance and grades via TotalTrack. If the requirements are not met, the training center is required to repay the total amount within a specified period.
“We’re here to support members who want to get into new markets with training,” said Mike Harris, program director for the ITI. “That’s what the ITI is here to do, and this is why the trustees put the grant program together. I tell them, ‘Dream big, send it to us, so we can see.’”
More than 14,000 apprentices are registered at over 150 training facilities across the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), welding and industrial, architectural and ornamental, and service and testing, adjusting and balancing industry throughout the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, the ITI develops and produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.
For more information about ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.