Graduation is just around the corner and thousands of seniors throughout our community are deciding what’s next for them — summer jobs, future career opportunities or college.
Whether you are a business owner, parent, teacher or counselor, now is an important time to remember apprenticeship opportunities. Although there is a popular mantra that chants high school graduates should “go to college,” some students are ready to take advantage of a career-ready option.
Apprenticeships, which are often overlooked by career counselors and parents, offer an interesting career option to become skilled in one of the building trades — plumber, electrician, mason, ironworker, welder or painter just to name a few.
Once an individual has completed an apprenticeship, he or she is often afforded a lucrative career in their trade with competitive salaries and benefits.
The Western Apprenticeship Coordinators Association (WACA) is a non-profit organization, supported by the region’s unions. It offers students interested in learning a trade with the actual opportunity. WACA serves 13 northern Nevada counties and parts of northeast California.
According to WACA President Randy Canale, “Our apprenticeship programs offer an alternative to individuals who may, for whatever reason, choose not to follow a traditional type of higher education. “There are many people who may not have the resources or desire or who may not be in a position that will not allow them to attend full time college classes.
“Union apprenticeships are nationally recognized methods of attaining higher job skills while still working and maintaining a living wage.”
Apprentices earn wages while working under the supervision of skilled workers, often referred to as a “Journeyman.” The duration of apprenticeships vary, but most range between two years to five years. Upon completion of the program, the apprentice receives documentation that certifies he or she has obtained journey-level status.
Apprenticeships are competitive and require a strong commitment from the interested individual. The programs require on-the-job training, classroom attendance (often during the evening or weekend) and book work. Required books and/or tools for the apprenticeship are available free or at a reduced cost.
“Another great aspect of WACA apprenticeships is that apprentices are also enrolled in Truckee Meadows Community College, which allows them to receive college credits,” said WACA board member Nanette Quitt. Apprentices then only need to take a few additional classes, after the completion of the apprenticeship program, to earn an associate’s degree from TMCC.
Each apprentice program is different and has its own entry requirements so those who are interested need to check the specifics of the individual programs. To be considered for most apprenticeships, applicants must meet certain age requirements, have a high school diploma or GED, possess a valid driver’s license and be physically capable to perform the necessary work.
It’s also expected they will become a member of the Construction Craft Union.
To learn more about apprenticeships that are currently accepting applications, visit WACA online at www.buildingtradejobs.org or call (775) 813-0702.
Bobbi Lazzarone is a recruiter for the Western Apprentice Coordinators Association.