A signing ceremony held September 17 unveiled a new welding registered apprenticeship created by Northeast Indiana Works and Garrett High School. Forty juniors and seniors signed up for the paid apprenticeship at the event and another 38 sophomores at Garrett are waiting in the wings.
The up to three-year welding apprenticeship, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is an extension of an existing State Earn and Learn (SEAL) career development welding program at Garrett. It is just the third registered apprenticeship in Indiana supported by a workforce development board – in this case Northeast Indiana Works, which is an approved apprenticeship intermediary. It will also be the largest contingent of students participating among the three programs statewide; the other two involve apprenticeships in precision machining and Certified Nurse Aide (CNA).
Matt Presley, regional director of the state’s Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship, assisted Chad Sutton, Director of Career Development at Garrett High, and Kimberly Tempel, Northeast Indiana Works’ senior director of business services/human resources, in developing the registered apprenticeship.
“This DOL youth welding apprenticeship program with Garrett High School serves as a model for all Indiana regional Workforce Development Boards on how to best collaborate, engage employers, and build high quality work-based learning opportunities for students that will launch careers,” Presley said.
“Congratulations to Northeast Indiana Works and Garrett High School for outstanding collaboration on building a high-quality registered apprenticeship program that delivers skilled welders to northeast Indiana, supports employers in their efforts to sustain and grow business, and expands skill development and career opportunities for students.”
The competency-based apprenticeship will include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning and a minimum of 634 hours of related instruction provided by Ivy Tech Community College at Garrett High School. Apprentices completing the program will have demonstrated proficiency in 42 competencies, earned a number of industry-recognized certificates and acquired 21 Ivy Tech college credits.
“This is an amazing milestone for our program and employer partners,” said Sutton. “Anytime we can celebrate our students’ accomplishments, support registered apprenticeships and help our industry and local workforce boards collaborate with our young adults, it is special.”
Said Tempel: “Northeast Indiana Works is committed to driving collaboration to solve workforce challenges and registered apprenticeships are an important part of that. The welding apprenticeship model is the culmination of laser-focused work by everyone involved. We look forward to helping lead similar local efforts with other partners in northeast Indiana.”
Filling the welding talent pipeline is crucial for area manufacturers. Manufacturing is the region’s largest employing industry, likely will be in the foreseeable future, and has been on a pace of an estimated 5,110 job openings annually in northeast Indiana. It is projected there will be an average of 310 annual openings for welders in the next 10 years in northeast Indiana.
Eight employers have thus far signed up to provide on-the-job learning for the Garrett apprentices: Metal Technologies Inc. (MTI), TFC Canopy, and Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 166, which also has an articulation agreement with five employers who have agreed to take on Garrett welding apprentices.
Kent Prosser, business manager at Local 166, said the apprentice program will be an integral part of the local’s recruitment process “and more importantly streamlining our recruitment process. Students have the chance to be under the wing of a journeyman and contractor and that could set them up for a lifelong career.”
Doug Weaver, plant manager at MTI, said: “I view this as a great opportunity for getting kids to be longtime employees. We win and the students win.”
“We hope,” said Sutton, “that even more employers in our region that employ welders will join this registered program to provide on-the-job training opportunities for our students and build a skilled workforce.”
The signing ceremony September 17 will begin at 1:45 p.m. in the Garrett-Keyser-Butler CSD Performing Arts Center, 500 S. Second St., Door 10, Garrett, Indiana.