ROCK ISLAND -- Nate Johnson of Moline, and Bree Rowan of Hillsdale got an extra bonus Tuesday. The two Plumbers & Pipefitters' apprentices will earn college credit while completing their heating-ventilating-air conditioning training with their union. |
Representatives of Black Hawk College and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 25 signed an agreement creating a new apprentice pipe trades program Tuesday during a news conference at the Local 25 union hall in Rock Island.
Mr. Johnson and Ms. Rowan are part way through the Plumbers & Pipefitters' five year apprentice. They are employed with Johnson Controls and will earn college credit for their on-the-job and classroom training going forward and for the work they have already completed.
When they reach the end of their apprentice training, they will have the option of taking an additional 15 credit hours of general education courses at Black Hawk to earn an associate in applied science degree. Or they will collect their program certificates from Black Hawk.
The program will train apprentice plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, and heating and cooling technicians.
Plumbers assemble, install and repair pipes, fittings and fixtures for water, gas, sewage and drainage systems.
Pipefitters assemble, install and maintain pipes to carry water, steam, compressed air, gases and fluids needed for processing, manufacturing, heating or cooling. They work with both high- and low-pressure pipes in industrial and commercial buildings. They do all types of pipe welding.
Refrigeration fitters install, maintain and repair heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration systems, which include electric, electronic, pneumatic and director digital controls.
Mr. Johnson is a third-year HVAC/Pipefitter apprentice; Ms. Rowan is a second-year HVAC apprentice.
The program recognizes what they have accomplished and brings more skilled craftspeople to the Quad-Cities area, said Keith Miller, Black Hawk College president. 'This program will greatly benefit not only our members and Black Hawk College; it will provide well-rounded, skilled workers to our contractors and their customers who use the services we provide,' said Pat Tracey, business manager for Local 25.
Area contractors, who are also a part of the union-college partnership, will end up with a higher-quality graduate, said Gary Lundvall, executive director of the Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois Mechanical Contractors Association.
The customers will win out in the end when they hire 'fine young apprentices and journeymen' for their mechanical work and for the next 25 years of their careers, he said. The Black Hawk partnership is an added tool for recruiting new apprentices, said Tom McCune, training coordinator for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 25 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. Local 25 recruits throughout Illinois and Iowa and gets calls for trained apprentices and journeymen across the nation, he said.
Completing a formal training program can open up greater job and promotion opportunities for someone pursuing a career in plumbing, pipefitting or related positions, Mr. McCune said. Apprentices earn a progressively increasing percentage of the journeyman's wage, ranging from 40 percent of scale (or $12.01 an hour) for a Level 1 apprentice and increases to 80 percent of scale, or $24.02 an hour for a Level 5 apprentice.
A graduate journeyman earns about $31 an hour plus nearly $15 an hour in benefits, according to a Black Hawk College-Plumbers Union press release.
The Plumbers & Pipefitters are currently training about 50 first-year apprentices and have between 140 and 150 apprentices overall, Mr. Tracey said. The demand for more skilled craftspeople has increased in the past year and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, he said.
About the Plumbers & Pipefitters program
- Apprentices will work for a contractor 40-plus hours a week. Must pass drug-screening prior to employment.
- Apprentices attend classes two or three nights a week and an occasional Saturday September through May.
- The five-year program includes a minimum 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and 1,300 hours of classroom training.
- Applicants need good math skills, good oral and written communication, an ability to work in high places, below ground and in confined spaces and have a good work ethic. Must maintain good grades and attendance, have an ability to perform the physical requirements of the trade and have reliable transportation.
- Classes start in September. For more information, contact Tom McCune, Local 25 training coordinator, at (309)788-4159 or Stephanie Allers, educational advisor at Black Hawk College at (309) 796-5160.
Source: Plumbers & Pipefitters Union, Local 25 and Black Hawk College
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