WASHINGTON - Clean, renewable energy represents the future of sustainable construction—and, in part, the future of the Iron Workers Union. Thanks to a Department of Labor (DOL) grant early in 2010, the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT) and the Apprenticeship and Training Department partnered with five local training centers to offer wind turbine training to Ironworkers. The primary goal of the grant was to train 510 ironworkers in “specific needs” skill sets to safely and efficiently work on wind turbine projects. 620 ironworkers received wind turbine training, surpassing the goal by 21 percent.
To administer the training, IMPACT Assistant Director of Education and Training Harvey Swift forged a relationship with the Francis Tuttle Technology Center (FTTC), a nonprofit, world-class technology center in Oklahoma City, Okla., with a pre-existing wind turbine technician program. Ironworkers who successfully complete the course receive four nationally recognized training certificates from industry leaders Capital Safety, Snap-on Industrial and HYTORC, Inc. (industrial torque and tension systems).
In addition, IMPACT and the Apprenticeship and Training Department used grant monies to replicate FTTC’s training model at five local training centers: Local 6 (Buffalo); Local 27 (Salt Lake City); Local 263 (Dallas/Ft. Worth); Local 416/433 (Los Angeles); and Local 444 (Joliet, Ill.)
The FTTC and the Iron Workers’s local training centers are equipped to deliver the skill training and meet the qualifications required by the growing wind energy industry. “With the five regional centers, the mobility of the equipment and its introduction into all local union training, we are able to meet the demands of every project for skilled, safe and productive Ironworkers,” explained Iron Workers General President Walter Wise.
“As a result of this grant, we have ironworkers who are better trained to meet our employers’ needs,” said Lee Worley, executive director of the Apprenticeship and Training Department for the Iron Workers. “This makes us more competitive and better equipped to gain market share and work opportunities.”
Beginning Jan. 14, 2012, the courses at the FTTC and at local union training centers will no longer be federally funded, but that means IMPACT and the National Training Fund will be free to tailor the wind turbine courses more fully to the specific needs of local unions, signatory contractors and owners without restrictions from the federal government.
All tools and equipment acquired for local union training centers will remain at these locals and be used for training Ironworkers not only at those locals, but also for employers and locals in their geographic area. “This partnership continues to allow the Iron Workers Union to provide on-demand training from anywhere across North America at a very reasonable cost,” added IMPACT CEO Eric Waterman.