November 2015

Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program: Ten Years Old and Going Strong!

It is hard to believe but it has been 10 years since our first apprenticeship programs were certified under the Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program (IACP). Those 
were our regional training centers in Benicia, California, St. Louis and northern New Jersey.

In December 2004, under the leadership of General President Joseph Hunt, a committee including apprenticeship coordinators, international staff, district council presidents and employers met to work on a number of important initiatives. General President Hunt charged this committee with the task of establishing a minimum core curriculum for all mixed local union apprenticeship programs across the United States and Canada. A similar minimum core curriculum was later completed for each of the specialty local unions including reinforcing, structural, and architectural and ornamental.

As an incentive to implement the core curriculum and to strengthen our apprenticeship programs, the Apprenticeship and Training Department developed the Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program (IACP). This year we recognize the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the IACP.

“The IACP is a fantastic program. The experience of becoming certified as the apprentice coordinator at Local 721 and then assisting the other five locals in the Ontario Council to achieve the same as the council president was very rewarding. It is a tremendous value-added benefit for the local unions and their training staff. The process is very adaptable to the rubric of the Canadian curriculum and I would recommend highly that each program undertake to achieve the IACP endorsement.”

– Kevin Bryenton | President | Ontario District Council


The primary purpose of the IACP is to improve and standardize the knowledge and skills of apprenticeship training. Additional reasons for the certification program include:

1. Certifies an apprenticeship program has met established minimum standards;

2. Improves the credibility of the apprenticeship program with contractors;

3. Encourages apprenticeship programs to seek higher standards;

4. Involves the apprenticeship coordinator, instructors and JATC in strengthening their program;

5. Provides the public with a positive image and validates that an apprenticeship training program meets or exceeds high standards;

6. Facilitates the process for apprentices to receive college credit and pursue a degree.


The IACP process begins with an internal evaluation. Using the IACP Evaluation Guide, an internal self-evaluation is conducted. The internal evaluation team consists of the apprenticeship coordinator, instructors and the labor and management representatives from the JATC. This team is responsible for conducting a comprehensive examination of all aspects of their apprenticeship program. Contractors and apprentices are welcome additions to the internal self-evaluation team.

“The IACP played a major role in my development as a coordinator. It provides a clear blueprint showing the important elements to strengthen an apprenticeship training program. If followed, the IACP enables an apprenticeship program to meet and exceed the rigorous demands of today’s ironworking trade.”

– Reis James | Industrial Analyst | Southeastern States District Council



The IACP self-evaluation includes eight standards the local union apprenticeship program must meet. These are reviewed by the internal evaluation team and include:

• Standard 1: Purpose and Administration – The apprenticeship program should have clearly stated goals relating to the needs of apprentices and contractors.

• Standard 2: Learning Resources – All training materials are consistent with the goals and objectives of the training program.

• Standard 3: Apprentice Services – There is a systematic and fair apprentice selection process and record-keeping system. 

• Standard 4: Instruction – The recommended core curriculum and course syllabi are available for the local curriculum.

• Standard 5: Safety and Equipment – All tools and equipment are available to support the local curriculum.

• Standard 6: Facilities – The physical facilities at the training center are adequate to support the learning needs of all apprentices. 

• Standard 7: Instructional Staff – All instructional staff have the required technical and instructional skills to facilitate learning.

• Standard 8: Job Training – Policies and procedures are in place to support the on-the-job training segment of the apprenticeship program.

After the internal self-evaluation is complete, an external evaluation site visit is scheduled. The external evaluation site visit team generally consists of a team of one or two members from the International and one outside evaluator. The site visitation team examines the results of the self-evaluation and conducts interviews with the apprenticeship coordinator, instructors, JATC members and apprentices. Upon completion of the site visit, a final report is developed including recommendations for strengthening and improving the program. At the conclusion of the report is a recommendation to grant initial certification or re-certification of a program or, in some cases, a recommendation the program not be certified until specific changes have been made.

Being an IACP certified apprenticeship program is also an expectation of the International. One of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for local union performance is their apprenticeship program is certified. 

To date, 112 ironworker apprenticeship programs in the United States and Canada have been certified! A complete listing of certified programs can be found at http://www.ironworkers.org/training/certified-local-union-apprenticeship-programs.

To assist the local unions in building a strong apprenticeship program, one that can meet the IACP requirements, the Apprenticeship and Training Department developed curriculum materials for all courses in the required core curriculum, as well as materials for many of the supplemental courses. All curriculum materials are available from the Apprenticeship and Training Department, including reference manuals, instructor guides, student workbooks, DVDs, etc.

We are confident the IACP has resulted in the strengthening of our apprenticeship programs allowing us to better meet the need of our contractors. Our goal is to have 100 percent of our local union programs certified in the coming years.

For additional information on the IACP, contact Michael Sampson in the Apprenticeship and Training Department (msampson@iwintl.org).