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Oct. 30, 2000

Apprenticeship success stories highlighted across the state

TUMWATER - Apprenticeship in Washington pays off -- to the tune of $17.98 an hour and $42,000 a year.

That's the average starting wage following completion of apprenticeship training, according to the latest statistics.

"For thousands of students, classroom learning combined with on-the-job experience is a much better investment than college," said Gary Moore, director of the Department of Labor & Industries. "Apprenticeship provides an opportunity to learn from an expert, to experience the work, not just to read or hear about it."

Gov. Gary Locke declared October 2000 as Registered Apprenticeship Awareness Month (RAAM 2000) in Washington, joining the U.S. Secretary of Labor and governors from many other states across the nation.

The purpose of RAAM 2000 was to increase public awareness of apprenticeship programs, to increase the number of people entering apprenticeship programs and to increase the number of employers who use registered apprenticeship training to develop their work force.

The Department of Labor & Industries, the Washington State Apprenticeship Council, Washington State Labor Council (AFL-CIO), Employment Security Department, to name a few, have sponsored apprenticeship fairs, open houses and other informational activities across Washington State designed to help educators, students and employers become more aware of the advantages of registered apprenticeship programs.

Many happy apprentices shared their success stories at a statewide meeting in Spokane:

Andrew Uribe, a recent graduate of a sheet metal apprenticeship program, is now working as a journey level sheet metal worker. Uribe is the first tradesperson in Eastern Washington to receive a multi-occupational Trades AAS degree from Spokane Community College. "Apprenticeship offers the best job training a craft person can receive anywhere. The benefits of working with skilled tradesperson on the job to produce a quality product are unsurpassed anywhere," Uribe said.

Female sheet metal apprentice Donne'l Vincent said: "With the apprenticeship program, I am able to learn as I earn and don't have to feel intimidated because of my lack of sheet metal knowledge. What I like most about the sheet metal apprenticeship is knowing that I am getting the best training I can for my future. The schooling and hands-on experience with journey level workers, equal pay and varied retirement options gives me a great sense of security for now and the future."

Patty Hanna, a paralegal apprentice, described her apprenticeship experience: "After working in a number of law firms in a secretarial/receptionist capacity, I realized I wanted to know more. With on-the-job training combined with education, I have been able to surpass my wildest dreams. You get the one-on-one guidance from your sponsor and your employer gets a smarter, more intuitive employee."

Some of the benefits an apprentice can enjoy include:

  • Registered apprentices/trainees pay substantially reduced tuition fees for attendance at related instruction classes held in community colleges or technical colleges.
  • Registered apprentices/trainees are covered by state industrial insurance while in attendance at related instruction classes.
  • Eligible veterans receive VA educational benefits while participating in an approved program.
  • Registration is a requirement to work as an apprentice/trainee on both state and federal public works' projects.
  • Registered apprentices/trainees have access to an appeal process in the event a serious problem arises during the course of training. That appeal process extends all the way up to the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.
  • Individuals completing formal training through registration with this office will receive validated credentials as fully qualified journey level workers.

The first step to becoming an apprentice is for the person to apply to an apprenticeship committee in their geographic area that offers their chosen occupation/trade. Information about how to do this is available on the Department of Labor & Industries web site at /apprenticeship/

According to Governor Locke, 40 percent of the new jobs in Washington's economy are jobs that require vocational training after high school, but not a college degree. And many of these new jobs are unfilled -- especially in Washington's growing high-tech industry.

"Yet at the same time that some of our companies are having to import people to fill good, family-wage jobs," Locke said, "we have thousands of workers in Washington State unemployed or working at poverty wages, all hungering for family wage jobs. Our own Washington workers are plenty smart enough to fill these technical jobs, but they can only do that if we connect them with the training they need.

"Apprenticeship training not only helps workers gain lifelong careers at family wages, but it also provides the citizens of this state with highly trained workers who will help Washington to compete more effectively in the future global economy," Locke said.

In 1998, the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board reported that the apprenticeship training system has the highest economic outcomes of any workforce-training program in Washington. Statistics show that the post-apprenticeship median hourly wage in 1996 was $17.68, a wage that supported a family of four at twice the poverty level. Currently, the average post-apprenticeship starting wage is $42,000.

The need for apprenticeships - in both traditional trades and non-traditional occupations - continues to grow. In fact, in 1999 the federal government awarded a $350,000 grant to Washington State to develop apprenticeship programs for childcare workers. In addition, the demand for skilled construction workers - the products of registered apprenticeship programs - continues to increase with Puget Sound's construction boom.

"Will apprenticeship have a place in the 21st Century?" said Gary Moore, director of the Department of Labor & Industries. "You bet. Apprenticeship programs are not only a venerable tradition, they are the wave of the future."

Anyone interested in learning more about apprenticeship opportunities -- students, employers, school guidance counselors, labor organizations - can contact Labor & Industries at 360-902-5320 or go to www.lni.wa.gov/apprenticeship/ on the Internet.

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