November brought in a greater emphasis on national apprenticeship programs than the Country has seen in recent years. National Apprenticeship Week was celebrated from November 13-19th. Of course, the pioneers in massive apprenticeship success have long been that National Building Trades Unions and their affiliates. But with the soaring demand for labor, coupled with a greater awareness in college debt struggles, the apprenticeship programs are now in vogue for everyone who wants to emulate the building trades and their partner construction contractors.


The United States Department of Labor boasted over 1,000 events across the 50 states that showcased apprentice leaders from every corner of the country. Also, the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss joined Secretary Alexander Acosta in a recent meeting to strategize on how to expand on success that skilled construction labor has enjoyed for decades through their joint apprenticeship training centers (JATC).


A few of the noteworthy apprenticeship highlights from across the nation include:

  • The Sheet Metal Workers Local 100 in Maryland hosted Secretary Acosta on a visit he made to see first hand their great example of the “earn while you learn” doorway into the skilled trades;
  • At least 95 cities and states, and even foreign countries, signing National Apprenticeship Week proclamations;
  • Approximately 30 million digital impressions were gathered from the weeklong celebration of “the other four year degree” programs that allow committed students to join the workforce debt free.


Closer to home Minnesotans participated in our own Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and economic development councils’ hosting of a bus tour that raised awareness on financially beneficial careers that are opened through apprenticeships. On November 16th they visited the Iron Workers, the Laborers and the Carpenters Unions’ JATC facilities. In Hermantown the Carpenters also hosted a luncheon at its training center that allowed contractors to share their opportunities and success at staffing its workforce with skilled, safe and productive unionized construction labor.


FCF capitalized on the Mid-November enthusiasm too. We introduced regulatory bodies to the skills and safety training that Minnesota’s JATCs provide. We organized a tour of the Pipe Fitters Local #539, the Sheet Metal Workers Local #10 and the Iron Workers Local #512 training centers across the metro region. In attendance were dedicated field agents from the U.S. Department of Labor, MN’s DLI, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minneapolis Contract Compliance staff. Nearly 30 individuals received personal presentations from three excellent JATC coordinators: Chad Birk, Carl Zitzer and Larry Gilbertson.