February 27, 2013
Earlier in 2013 three LWIT Welding Technology students were selected from 70 individuals as finalists for prestigious apprenticeships with the Ironworker's Local 86 in Tukwila.
David Garness, Greg Keller and Garret Sim all participated in the Ironworker's evaluation test, which required them to carry 100 pounds of rebar for 30 minutes, demonstrate knot tying, demonstrate tying rebar with pliers and wire, walk beams on an elevated structure, and pass a written test.
"When you step into such a physically demanding field, your employer wants to know you can physically do the work as well as know the basics needed to do the work safely," explains LWIT Welding Technology Instructor Doug Rupik. "Our guys were three of 15 who passed those tests and were accepted into the 40-hour apprenticeship class where they'll receive more skill related training."
At the end of the class, the top performers will be invited to accept apprentice positions with the Ironworkers, where they will have a starting wage of almost $25 an hour and full benefits. Typically an apprentice will work for four years, gaining significant on the job training and attending 160 hours of classes before they can test to become journeymen. However, the LWIT graduates will be allowed to test in three years thanks to their training at the college, Rupik said. Once a journeyman, each has the potential to make close to $38 an hour plus full benefits.
"As the economy slowly begins to recover, there is an increased call for more welders," Rupik says. "It's been quite a while since the Ironworkers have had a call for apprentices, but that's changing and it's exciting to see not one but three of our students well on their way to great new careers."
During the downturn Ironworker's Local 86 suspended calls for apprenticeships, however with the upswing Rupik sees an opportunity for more dedicated LWIT students to get a foot in the door. As a former instructor of Local 86's apprenticeship courses, he has a feel for what the union is looking for in an applicant and aims to prepare more students for the opportunity.