Being an unskilled worker generally comes with low wages and a a job that is dreaded on a daily basis. Likewise, unskilled workers are often trapped in that position, with no opportunity to stop working to gain an education because they still need to provide for their families. In these cases, four year universities are out. But there is another option – apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are excellent opportunities that give training to unskilled workers while still allowing them to earn money.
The IBEW (International Brother of Electrical Workers) Local Union 99 in Cranston, Rhode Island offers apprenticeships opportunities in the electrical trades. To be considered, applicants must take an aptitude test and receive a score of 70 or better. The completion of the program requires 8000 hours of on the job training as well as related classroom instruction. This typically requires five full years in the program. Wages for apprentices typically start at approximately $14 per hour, with pay increases occurring at regular intervals throughout duration of the apprenticeship. Apprentices are overseen in the field by an experienced journeyworker. During the training apprentices learn to install, repair, operate and maintain all types of electrical equipment. At the end of the program, apprentices are left with the knowledge and experience to have rewarding, life long careers.
In East Providence, Rhode Island the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 51 offers apprenticeship training in the areas of plumbing, pipefitting, and HVAC Refrigeration Service. Apprentices learn skills through both working in real life situations and classroom instruction. While in the on site training portion of the program, apprentices learn plumbing and pipefitting skills from experienced journeymen. In the classroom, apprentices work on skills in blueprint reading, basic math and safety practices. To be considered for an apprentice position, applicants must pass a drug test and receive a grade of 70 or better on a competency exam, which are both administered on the same day as the application is submitted. Those who pass both of these tests will then be granted a required interview. To complete the program, apprentices must complete 10000 hours of on the job training and 248 hours of classroom instruction, which equates to five years. Once the program has been completed, apprentices are ready to take the state issued licensing exam, which will elevate them to journeyman status and prepare them to work as a licensed plumber, which provides a long term and rewarding career.
In Providence, Rhode Island, Building Features offers a program that helps low income individuals in urban areas gain knowledge and experience in commercial construction skills to allow them to achieve rewarding careers. The program does not go into advanced construction skills; rather, it focuses on general skills that are needed for basic construction jobs. Rather than being a typical apprenticeship, this program is sort of like a stepping stone to a real apprenticeship. This program lasts only five weeks, which is approximately 200 hours. There is a small stipend that is given to participants in this program; however, when an individual graduates and moves on to an apprenticeship, they will start earning regular wages and fringe benefits. Graduates from this program are assisted with finding apprenticeships with affiliated companies; however, the time it can take to transition from the program to an apprenticeship can vary depending on the time of the year and various other factors. Those who are interested in this program need to first attend a scheduled orientation before applying.
Since many apprenticeship programs are very competitive, especially through unions, a program like Building Futures can really improve the chances of an applicant being accepted in an apprenticeship program. The more experience and education you have before applying to an apprenticeship program, the better are your chances of being selected. This is really the main goal of Building Futures, to give unskilled workers a better opportunity to gain apprenticeship positions or employment so they are not trapped in low income jobs for the rest of their lives.
There are a large number of apprenticeable jobs available. However, the ones that are heard about most often are those that are related to the construction fields. Having said that, there are a lot of other trade industries that also come with the opportunity of learning them through apprenticeship programs; they are not limited to just construction workers. Some other examples include the culinary arts, child care, early childhood education, violin making, gardening and much more.
Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for both newly graduating high school students and older adults who wish to change their careers. Apprentice programs are excellent alternatives to traditional four year degrees because after an apprenticeship program, one is not left with thousands of dollars worth of educational bills following a period of having no income. Instead, apprenticeships allow workers to earn money and benefits such as health insurance, as soon as the job has started.