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Blog Post

Ironworkers Meet Skilled Labor Shortage with Education and Training

10/20/2017

Organizations in the building trades like the Iron Workers (IW) invest millions of dollars in comprehensive training including in-depth safety training – saving time and money for contractors and end users. A safe workforce reduces injuries, fatalities and costly delays adding up to substantial cost savings. 

While some end users and contractors report trouble finding skilled labor, the IW apprenticeship program churn out highly-trained and skilled apprentices with on-the-job training every day. The IW’s 3-4-year, earn-while-you-learn apprentice program provides 6000-8000 hours of on-the-job training and over 700 hours of classroom training. Apprentices are paired with multiple employers over the course of the program. The IW 157 training centers collectively invest between $80 million and $90 million a year in training a skilled labor force and average nearly 50,000 applications every year. Almost 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing the program, with an average starting wage above $50,000. The organization developed Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program (IACP) and national training material on all aspects of the ironworking industry to improve and standardize the quality of training. Furthermore, the IW apprenticeship program has established articulation agreements for college credit.

Once apprentices become journeymen, they complete journeymen upgrade training to keep skills sharp just as continuing education credits are necessary for engineers and lawyers. Every year on average 2000-4000 journeymen are certified in some crucial skill. As of April 2017, the IW reported nearly 80,000 well-trained journeymen and nearly 20,000 apprentices. Foreman training and superintendent training offer further career development opportunities for the ironworkers. The IW Annual Ironworker Instructor Training ensures that the IW instructors are knowledgeable and well trained.

Welding is one of the most critical demands in the construction industry. The IW has more than 12,000 certified welders in the U.S. and nearly 5,600 in Canada. The certifications are transferrable or portable and come with easy online verification. The IW continues to raise the bar and lead the industry in qualified rigger and signal person qualification with comprehensive training and a new accredited third-party rigging and signal person certification program.

The IW recently introduced a generous paid maternity leave benefit as part of it efforts to improve diversity and retention rates in the workforce. Women make up half of the population and they are a viable answer to the problem. 

Skilled labor shortage cannot be remedied with low-skill, low-wage labor and the IW is answering the call with education, training and career development initiatives.

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