What is an apprentice?
Apprentices have a long history dating back to ancient Greece when young workers entered a term of service, now called indentureship, to a skilled tradesman to learn his craft. Things are much the same today. Currently, an apprentice is an employee who learns a skilled trade through planned, supervised work on the job, while at the same time receiving related technical classroom instruction. Apprentices are required to sign an indenture agreement with their joint apprenticeship committee/trade improvement committee, spelling out the requirements and expectations of an apprentice ironworker.
Apprentices are taught the proper use, care and safe handling of the tools and equipment used in connection with their work and, of course, the important skills necessary to become a successful tradesperson.
While working on the job and acquiring skills, apprentices are a regular part of the work force on whom contractors and co-workers rely. But remember apprentices are also required to attend ironworking school and complete the prescribed courses related to the trade in order to complement their on-the-job training. Apprentices will receive an evaluation about every six months to determine if they are learning the craft. If the on-the-job training or schoolwork is not satisfactory, they may be dropped from the program or sent back to repeat that segment of training. If, however, the work is good they will receive a pay raise. That’s right, pay raises usually occur every six months!
What can I expect of an ironworker apprenticeship program?
Most ironworker apprenticeships last 3 or 4 years depending on the local union requirements. An ideal schedule provides equal training in structural, reinforcing, ornamental, welding and rigging. The actual length of training for each subject may vary depending on the predominant type of work available in the local area.
Apprentices are required to receive at least 204 hours of classroom and shop instruction during every year of training. The subjects taken in the shop and classroom complement the hands-on training received in the field. The subjects include blueprint reading, care and safe use of tools, mathematics, safety issues, welding and oxy-acetylene flame cutting.
What is expected of ironworker apprentices?
- Complete cooperation and willingness to learn
- Regular school attendance
- Dependability on the job
- The ability to work as part of a team
- The development of safe work habits
- Perform a day’s work for a day’s pay
- Be drug and alcohol free