An apprentice is a worker who learns a craft skill through planned, supervised work on the job, plus related classroom instruction. Moreover, when working on the job, an apprentice is a regular part of the work force and earns wages while acquiring important skills.
The apprenticeship-training period for skilled occupations ranges from three to five years. Apprentices are taught the proper use, care and safe handling of the tools and equipment used in connection with their work. To round out their training, classroom work is required in subjects related to the trade.
Men and women 18 years old and above (depending on the trade) are eligible to apply. Applicants must be physically able to do the work of the trade. Some trades require an entry examination. Most trades require applicants to be a high school graduate or possess a General Education Development (G.E.D.) certificate. Apprenticeship programs provide employment opportunity to all persons, regardless of race, sex, ethnic group or age.
For all trades, equal opportunity in apprenticeship means that you will be considered for training without regard to race, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, veteran status, or disability.
Some Northwest Ohio apprenticeship programs now qualify for college credit. Owens Community College and Northwest State Community College are the schools offering such programs.
Apprentices earn while learning: the more they learn, the higher the pay. Most apprentices are paid 40-70% of a journeyperson’s wage to start. As they climb the ladder to the final qualifications, their wages are increased at regular intervals. At the end of their terms of apprenticeship, they become a journeyperson and draw full pay for their skill.
Training in the skilled construction trades is good insurance. In addition to opportunities for promotion and steady employment, it gives you something that no one can ever take away from you. A lifelong increased earning capacity will enable you to get and keep a well-paying job anywhere in the country. Skilled hands and a trained mind give the owner a strong feeling of security, which, in some ways, is better than money in the bank.
The actual selection of apprentices in every skilled building trade is done by members of a Joint Apprenticeship Committee. These are people with considerable experience representing both management and labor. Committee members do all selecting of applicants. The Committees are sometimes assisted by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, the Construction Opportunity Center, Owens Community College, and Northwest State Community College.
The Joint Apprenticeship Committee determines the need for apprentices and sets the standards of education, experience and training. A high school education, or its equivalent, with courses in mathematics and science is very desirable. Often applicants are given tests by the Committee to determine their aptitude for a particular occupation. More specific requirements are described later in this section under each trade.
Today construction tradespeople are drawn from the ranks of high school graduates. The importance of staying in school and learning all you can cannot be overemphasized. The smart young person of today stays in school. In the stiff competition of today’s industry, a person must be able to do jobs requiring more than a few weeks’ experience. A high school education is required preparation for a young person interested in becoming a skilled journeyperson. The term journeyperson is an old one, dating back to medieval times when skilled craftspersons had to travel from place to place to practice their trade. Thus, they became known as journeypersons. The word now refers to persons who have served their apprenticeship.
The most common way that a young person can enter an apprenticeship program is through indentureship. Indentureship is basically a written agreement to train for a craft as a learner, or apprentice. Agreements generally are with the Joint Apprenticeship Committee for the full term of apprenticeship—from three to five years. An agreement can also be with an employer who can provide the variety of work experience necessary to give the apprentice all-around instruction in the craft and relatively continuous employment.
To be certain the apprentice gets proper training, both federal and state governments establish rules which supervise the progress of the trainer. Every construction apprenticeship program must adhere to regulations and standards, which are registered with the Ohio Apprenticeship Council. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training assists in the formulation of and the carrying out of the standards. Apprenticeship in construction has been described as “the doorway to opportunity.” Apprentices—at little cost to themselves—learn skills they can use the rest of their lives. Training gained through apprenticeship has enabled many workers to advance to better jobs.