A dispatch from eastern Washington
By JIM HEDEMARK
Special to The STAND
SPOKANE (Nov. 20, 2023) — National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) in November for the last nine years is appropriately-placed on the calendar. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am so grateful for the “earn-while-you-learn” registered apprenticeship model that builds the American middle class and continues the tradition of passing down specialized skills and innovation through professional development that have been honed for millennia.
Our NAW week kicked off in Spokane, WA this past Monday with Mayor Nadine Woodward’s proclamation and City Council recognition. IBEW Local 77 Business Representative Dave Garengnani and Spokane Community College Director of Apprenticeship Kenna May were among those accepting the Spokane National Apprenticeship Week proclamation.
During her comments to Spokane Council, Kenna mentioned many of the recent area projects that utilized apprentices including One Spokane Stadium, and the North Spokane Corridor. Max Kuney, of Max J. Kuney Construction, contractor on the North Spokane Corridor, says, “Apprentices are filling the need to continue to build our workforce and continue to build American infrastructure.”
This year, the U.S. Department of Labor has placed emphasis on aspects of the registered apprenticeship experience on each of the five days of this commemorative week. This provides a great framework for focus and follow-up on apprenticeship activities in Eastern Washington.
Monday, November 13: Registered Apprenticeship for Youth
Spokane Community College hosted an open house on their Skilled Trades Preparation program (STP). The open house this past Tuesday was focused on outreach to high school CTE educators in an effort to promote pre-apprenticeship opportunities to young people.
Many Union instructors were on hand including: Andrew Richman, Heat & Frost Insulators Local 82; Jon Medaris, Inland Empire Electrical Training Trust, Local 73; Matt Chapman, PNW Ironworkers Local 14; Mike Baker, Roofers Local 189; Eric Palmer and Mike Mattingly, Finishing Trades / Painters Drywallers District 5.
Tuesday, November 14: Registered Apprenticeship in New and Emerging Industries
IBEW Local 77 Political Director Christine Reid, reports that the local is excited about their newly developed 2,000-hour, proposed apprenticeship program in “Cyber Control Technical Training.”
IBEW Local 77 has been working with energy, education, and workforce stakeholders to develop an operations-based (OT) technology training that addresses the increasing cyber-attacks threats on our systems and structures. Over the last 3 years we have developed an RSI (Related Supplemental Instruction) and 2,000-hour proposed registered apprenticeship program to address these concerns.
(IT) Information Technology has been the presumed home for cyber safety for many years, however there are increasing rates of attacks and vulnerabilities identified in many sectors including banking, higher education, manufacturing, and utility systems. To quote the VP of Critical Infrastructure at TDI Technologies who supports customers worldwide, “We have all the cyber-IT we can use; we have nearly no cyber-OT Operational Technology, it is our greatest talent lack, and the need is growing exponentially.”
This proposed program will provide upskilling for existing utility workers with the goal of becoming a stand-alone apprenticeship. There is an incredible opportunity to make sure the future of (OT) Operational Technology, will include an apprenticeship pathway to meet the demand for these highly skilled workers, while providing new opportunities and family wage careers.
Wednesday, November 15: Expanding Registered Apprenticeship to Underserved Populations
The Skilled Trades Preparation (STP) Apprenticeship Preparation Program at Spokane Community College is specifically designed to address the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the construction trades. Aimed at enhancing diversity, STP focuses on providing essential skills and knowledge through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on learning. This program serves as a gateway for individuals from underrepresented groups, offering them the tools and training needed to thrive in the construction industry. By bridging the gap and promoting inclusivity, STP contributes to a more diverse and skilled workforce in the construction trades.
According to a story in The Spokesman-Review in March earlier this year, “The PEPP (Pre-Employment Preparation Program) was created in 2021 to help those with disadvantages entering or re-entering the workforce, such as the formerly incarcerated and those without high school diplomas. With a job in the trades, graduates have an opportunity for stability and a large enough salary to care for their families.”
The story continues, “The program is taught by instructors like Luis Licea, who was born in Mexico and has been part of the Northwest Laborers Training for 15 years after graduating from an apprenticeship in 2004. He has taught labor workshops and apprenticeships in both English and Spanish in places such as Yakima and Pasco, and has been leading classes for the PEPP program since its launch.”
The Head Start to the Construction Trades (HCT) program has been providing pre-employment and life skills training to underserved communities since 2018, including classes dedicated to the Geiger Correctional Facility for those soon to be released and women only classes. The HCT program’s goal is to build a stronger, more inclusive culture that encourages business in the construction industry to evolve. Their programs are designed for the advancement of communities and families, through developing the next generation of construction team members.
Thursday, November 16: Women in Registered Apprenticeship
Earlier this year, UA Local 598 apprentice, Trish Orem joined a growing club of state apprenticeship competition champions who are women. Trish continues her apprenticeship journey and says, “I am so grateful for the apprenticeship program. Being a woman in the workplace isn’t always easy, but since I joined the program, I have had nothing but support, opportunities to learn, aids to success and help to grow. So far, there have been so many wonderful experiences and I know the future holds so many more.”
Diane McDaniel, former and the first woman Political Director WSLC, AFL-CIO says, “Seeing women increasingly take their place in leadership in the labor movement – not only warms, but sets my heart on fire. We celebrate the strong women who enter, complete training, and encourage sisters to join the union family like Trish and so many others.”
Friday, November 17: Registered Apprenticeship for Veterans and Federal Employees
State Representative Jenny Graham (WA-6) is an Army Reserves veteran and proud mother of an Airforce airman stationed at Tyndall AFB in Florida. Representative Graham states, “I am a big believer in apprenticeships, especially programs like Helmets to Hardhats as they help those in the armed forces in their transition to civilian life and the opportunity to continue to develop and master marketable skills.”
Spokane County Clerk Tim Fitzgerald, Col. (Ret) United States Marines is especially proud of federal, state and municipal service civil servants who began and continue their careers in the military. Tim says, “Employers, especially government employers, understand and appreciate the training that occurs through our military.” Tim also serves on the board of Spokane Veterans Forum. Tim continues, “Apprenticeships are a tremendous opportunity for veterans to continue the structure and pride that is so deeply part of their being.”
Spokane City Council Member – elect, Kitty Klitzke served as an Army Reserve Medic and is pleased that Washington State continues to grow registered apprenticeship opportunities in health care, education, and government agencies. Kitty shares, “I have a family member who benefited from the transition from military service to the trades. My brother in law, Zachary Juhl started in the military and now is a proud journeyman steamfitter and 27 year member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 44.”
Future eastern Washington apprenticeship opportunities
Allen Eveland, Lead Instructor Spokane at the Machinists Institute and President of District 751, Local 86 states, “We are excited to open the Institute in Eastern Washington in 2024. “I believe in the power of apprenticeships and how they can help the apprentice be paid on the job and the only debt they will incur at the end of their apprenticeship is that of a home mortgage, instead of a home mortgage worth of debt.”
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