In recent issues of The Voice of the Building Trades, Michael Haupricht has written about the gloomy job market in Northwest Ohio, seeing a few signs the outlook for construction work is improving.
Still, if a high school graduate who wasn’t interested in immediately seeking a four-year college degree would come to him for advice on other options, Haupricht, the executive secretary of the Northwest Ohio Building Trades Council (NWOBTC), says he would counsel the graduate to at least consider an apprenticeship program in the trades.
An apprenticeship, says Haupricht, can be the foundation for an array of opportunities.
“There is more to our trades than just the skilled trades. People can branch out into something else. They may decide later to become an architect, for example. But if you come through the trades you get an idea of what’s involved. They’ll learn to work with blueprints and drawings,” he said. “Or maybe someone wants to become a home decorator. They can first work with painters and learn that and wallpapering and the other areas. They may later want to start their own company and run their own business. They may want to become a contractor. It’s endless what the possibilities are.
“You get paid while you’re learning. You’re not putting out a lot of money for schooling, but you’re learning a trade and being paid to learn that trade.”
Haupricht himself is an example of someone whose job path has taken a few turns.
In 1971, he was a “lugger”, hauling material for members of Insulators Local 45, who were working at a Detroit power plant. He began his apprenticeship in 1973 and nine years later was working on the union’s executive board. After serving as the vice president and president of the board, he became the business manager of the union in 1997. Seven years later, he assumed his current post with the NWOBTC,
Apprenticeship programs conducted by member unions of the council are designed with input from contractors as well as labor; hence the word “joint” in the Toledo Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, for example.
The Toledo JATC conducts two apprenticeship training programs registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the JATC Web site. A relatively new program focuses on the telecommunications and data transmission fields and the JATC has a partnership with Owens Community College that allows apprentices to receive college credits toward a two-year associate degree.
The NOWBTC makes available to anyone interested in the various apprenticeship programs a 29-page guide that details the requirements for each program. The guide can be viewed at www.nwobtc.org or at the Alliance of Construction Professionals Web site: www.acp1.com.
The member unions also have links with the NWOBTC Web site that include information about when they’re accepting applications for their apprenticeship programs.
Information about pay rates is also available. For example, the journeyman wage and benefit package for members of Boilermakers Local 85 totals $51.34 an hour. The base rate is $33.43 after pension, health insurance, training, and other fees are deducted.
A beginning apprentice receives 70 percent of the base rate, or $23.40 an hour, according to terms of a contract that is in effect until July 4, 2010. Helper rates start at 50 percent of the base rate, or $16.72 an hour.