For nearly two decades, many Local 359 apprentices in Phoenix have been able to fill their toolboxes with little to no out-of-pocket costs thanks to a generous grant program administered by the Workforce Development Division of Arizona@Work.
The Maricopa County offices of Arizona@Work have had a longstanding relationship with Local 359, with a liaison from the organization even occupying office space in Local 359’s training center. The local also has a training facility in Pima County and works with the Pima workforce development division to assist students at that location.
The grants, which are funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act and the American Rescue Plan, provide financial assistance and supportive services to help cover the cost associated with participating in the registered apprenticeship program at Local 359. Grant money covers the cost of tools, safety equipment, clothing and work boots.
“The cost of tools for an apprentice can really add up,” said Al Blanco, Local 359 training coordinator. “Because of the Arizona@Work grants, our students can purchase almost everything they need to work in the field. And now, because of changes due to COVID, welding helmets, gloves and jackets are also covered.”
Apprentices are only eligible for the grant once, and most who meet eligibility requirements receive it in their first year. To be considered, students must apply and submit the required information, which the training center liaison can help them accomplish.
According to Blanco, Arizona@Work prioritizes veterans but about 90% of the students who apply receive the grant. If a student does not apply in their first year, they are still eligible to apply anytime during their apprenticeship.
“If they don’t receive it, it is usually because they didn’t supply all the required information,” he said.
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.