National Apprenticeship Week opens doors

National Apprenticeship Week celebrated its fifth year in 2019, and members of the International Association of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers reached out to their communities to raise awareness of union apprenticeship.

Held from Nov. 11-17, the nationwide event gives businesses, communities and education professionals the chance to ask questions, tour facilities and even complete a project with their own two hands to show college isn’t the only way to succeed.

This year, many training centers got apprentices involved to allow potential students the chance to relate and ask questions firsthand. Sheet Metal Locals 9 (Colorado) and 103 (Montana) spent the week celebrating awards for their work doing exactly what National Apprenticeship Week entails — showing their communities the faces of sheet metal work through their award-winning apprentices.

Local 9, Colorado
Chloe Lomax was selected by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as the recipient of the Outstanding Apprentice Award in the 2019 Colorado Apprenticeship Awards, which were held at Gov. Jared Polis’ residence at the Boettcher Mansion in November.

The Business Experiential-Learning (BEL) Commission honored six apprentices, three mentors and five employers who have promoted and encouraged awareness of apprenticeship programs. The award ceremony was held in accordance with Polis’ proclamation naming November as Colorado Apprenticeship Month.

In her mid-30s, Lomax was a stay-at-home mom of a now 3-year-old son when changes in her life made it apparent that finding a career would be the most beneficial next step. Through Colorado Connections, she was introduced to the sheet metal trade.

Now a second-year apprentice, Lomax said the apprenticeship “made the doorway” for that positive change to happen. She can now provide medical insurance and a college fund for her son as well as a retirement for herself. She is currently employed at Hercules Industries and, when she’s not in school or on the job, works to recruit more women — especially women of color — into the trade.

“I want to be a business owner,” Lomax said of her long-term goals. “One who does specialized projects where it’s a lot more geared toward the art side of things. When a lot of people talk about sheet metal, it’s usually in relation to HVAC. I want to be able to broaden that and make it more accessible.”

Local 80, Detroit
More than 9,000 high school students and chaperones from around the region received a first-hand, hands-on look at more than 200 jobs and careers from 1,000 professionals from 115 companies, educational institutions and labor organizations during MiCareerQuest Southeast.

The event was billed as the region’s largest interactive career exploration event for high school students from six Michigan counties. Unlike a typical career fair, students touch, feel and work with the equipment, tools and technology used every day by talented people in chosen fields.

Training Director Matt O’Rourke as well as instructors and apprentices from the Detroit-based Sheet Metal Local 80 apprenticeship program met with students who, with their assistance, used a hand brake and a variety of tools to craft a metal pencil box. This is the third year Local 80 has participated in the event.

“We chose a hands-on event that would give the student an idea of what it’s like to work with sheet metal,” O’Rourke said. “It’s nice that each student can walk away with something they made themselves. We enjoyed talking to students who are interested in a career in construction but had no idea until the event that opportunities in apprenticeship programs existed.”

Along with O’Rourke, Sam Velez, instructor, and 22 apprentices took part in the event, including Brice Anderson, Kolin Barnes, Andrew Brasfield, Jared Clark, James DeMoines, Anthony Dennis, Steven Fenn, Kody Gaffney, Hayden Harper, John Iacono, Diego Martinez, Jaydee Modelski, Ben Mitchell, Sean Muldoon, Jason Murphy, Ben Rudisill, Daniel Ruthkosky, Elizabeth Schweitzer, Cameron Simms, Sean Stenzel, Keith Tate and Cameron Taylor.

Local 103, Montana
Sheet Metal Workers Local 103 in Montana was recognized as the 2019 Montana Apprentice Sponsor of the Year by Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney during National Apprenticeship Week. Other honorees included Tri-County Mechanical and Electrical, owned by Matt and Kris Lane, with the 2019 Montana Apprenticeship Employer of the Year; and Montana Health Network with the Emerging Apprenticeship Industry Excellence Award.

“Just to be recognized on the state level feels pretty good,” said Dale Carpenter, training director for Local 103. “It was also nice to have honored guests in attendance who are key to how the program moves forward. We’re all in this together.”

Local 88, Las Vegas
For the second year, Local 88 opened its doors for National Apprenticeship Week, welcoming everyone from word-of-mouth referrals to representatives from Clark County School District Adult Education, the Unified Construction Industry Council, Southern Nevada Building Trades and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation.

“We chose an open house for this year’s event, so attendees could be exposed to the sheet metal industry, the many opportunities within the industry and get a closer look at the state-of-the-art facility that trains our future,” said Ed Abraham, training director for Local 88. “It was also a good time for them to ask questions about the industry and application process.”

Local 24, Dayton, Ohio
High school students and education professionals in Dayton, Ohio, participated in a busy National Apprenticeship Week thanks to Sheet Metal Workers Local 24, Dayton Area JATC.

Approximately 1,000 students and 300 education professionals participated in hand-on activities at the training center as well as other events held at institutions around the city including the Dayton Library and the Women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) professional conference at Edison State Community College. Students from Upper Valley Career Center, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, Stebbins High School and Vandalia Butler High School attended a lunch-and-learn where they toured the training center and learned about the pathway to a successful career as a sheet metal worker. During the event, students also participated in hands-on demonstrations, including the virtual lift simulator.

“To me, the reasons are clear for participating in this event. The hope is to bring our apprenticeship program to a broader audience,” said Eugene Frazier, training director for Local 24. “Our career path is a great one. It is here to stay, the doors are open, and we’re just waiting for them to give the building trades apprenticeship programs a chance before they just follow the path they have heard about for so long — college is the only way to success. Once they hear what we have to offer, it’s more along the lines as to what they wanted all along.”

The year’s events couldn’t have been possible without the support from the ITI (International Training Institute), Lincoln Electric and the following volunteers Mike E. Tipton, business agent (retired); Mike W. Tipton, business agent; Rick Perdue, business agent; Erin Hause, training instructor; Ashlei Black, second-year apprentice; Laura Seig, second-year apprentice; Devon Legge, fifth-year apprentice; Gabriel Serna, fifth-year apprentice; Joshua Moorehouse, journeyman and recent graduate; Matthew Welker, first-year apprentice; and from the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association Michigan chapter, Joe Williams, Emily Mandich and Morgan Arwood.

More than 14,000 apprentices are registered at 148 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.

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