News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 25, 2013

Unions focus on training to maintain skilled workforce

TERRE HAUTE — Workforce training is something officials with unions in Vigo County say they do annually to maintain a skilled workforce.

Unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 725, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 841, Regional Council of Carpenters Union Local 133 and Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 157 each have facilities to train new workers and update their existing workforce.

“We need more skilled workers, that is for sure, but I am not sure the state needs to pay for it. Every union has an apprentice program and spends a lot money on training people for vocational skills,” said Tom Ridge, business manager of the Operating Engineers Local 841.

The Indiana General Assembly is considering legislation to improve workforce training to overcome a “skills gap.” One proposal would create the Indiana Career Council (ICC), a 15-member panel designed to bring together the state’s workforce development efforts.

The ICC would be responsible for aligning education skills and training provided by the state’s educational, job skills and career training systems with the projected needs of the state’s job market.

According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, 67 percent of manufacturing companies are reporting moderate-to-severe shortage of available, qualified workers, with 56 percent of those expecting a shortage to increase in the next three years. Manufacturing comprises 25 percent of Indiana’s gross state product.

“I don’t see as much of a skills gap in the construction industry, but I can’t speak for the manufacturing sector, which is something different. In the construction industry, I don’t see the skills gap,” Ridge said.

“We spend probably $1 million a year on training. Our members are dedicated to training and spend a lot of time to be highly trained. Eighty cents an hour [from union members] goes to our training site to keep our workers trained,” Ridge said.

Operating engineers — whose workers operate heavy machinery such as road graders, lifters or cranes — maintain a 290-acre training site north of Shirkieville and has had an apprentice program since the early 1970s, Ridge said.

Apprentices enter a four-year program, putting in 4,000 hours of training. The union, with 2,400 members in Indiana and Illinois, currently has about 120 apprentices, adding 10 to 30 new apprentices a year.

‘Work ethic gap’

John Pancake, director of education for the Carpenters Union Local 133, said most unions train workers to the required skill level needed for a task. However, the carpenters union, like many other unions, is now more often seeing a “work ethic gap.”

“One of the biggest complaints from our contractors is people [not] showing up for work or [not] showing up to work on time,” Pancake said. “Work ethic is a real hard one to train. It is a soft skill, definitely not a technical skill,” he said, adding the concern has arisen in the last eight to nine years.

Under its program, if an apprentice is constantly late or does not show up to work during a 180-day probationary period, he/she will not proceed in the program. In addition, the union has a “helmet to hard hat” program to recruit military veterans.

“If someone is in Afghanistan today, in about six weeks, we can have them in our program with direct-entry. There we have a very disciplined individual, not only with the work ethic, but they are ready to go every day on time in most cases,” Pancake said.

The union now has 115 military people in that program, he said.

Apprentices undergo 160 classroom hours per year and minimum of 1,300 hours of on-the-job training annually. There are 1,245 apprentices in the four-year program, Pancake said. The union has nine training centers in Indiana and  Kentucky and in for four counties in Tennessee.

Training costs an average of $15,000 per apprentice per year. The union had a training budget of $7.8 million last year for its local and international union, with 16,000 members in the three state area, Pancake said. The funds come from collective bargaining agreements between the union and contractors.

The average age of a carpenter apprentice is 271⁄2 years old, as many enter the program as a second career choice, he said. Most unions in Vigo County have an agreement with Ivy Tech Community College and apprentices receive an associate’s degree after completing the apprentice training, Pancake said.

Greg Tucker, business representative for the Local 133, said he would invite any state legislators to look at their training facilities “to let them see what is happening, so we are not re-inventing the wheel. We have had several legislators already visit our facility,” he said.

Math skills needed

John “JB” Strange, financial secretary/treasurer for the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 157, said one skills gap for potential apprentices is math readiness, followed by hands-on experience in such skills as welding.

“Most of the high schools are geared toward college or manufacturing and we struggle a little bit to find people that have the skills we are looking for in math and some hands-on type experience in apprentices when we take in a class,” Strange said.

Apprentices first undergo a state test on math, science and communication. Strange said that is where he has seen a dip in math ability. “We span a wide gamut of the work we do and that is why we need the training and good people. For example, there is a lot of instrumentation work on values,” he said.

Plumbers and steamfitters work on sanitary and water lines, on boiler systems for electrical generation, industrial piping, medical gas piping and heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

Strange said the union is strict on apprentices if they do not show up to training or work. The union, with 1,800 members, has about 175 apprentices in a five-year program. The union covers 22 counties. “We spend about $1.3 million for training just for our local. We figure it is about $10,000 per apprentice [annually] for training,” he said.

Joe Kerr, business manager of the IBEW, said any skills gap is likely a result of many schools, especially smaller high schools, dropping vocational training classes or reducing their importance.

“That is where we come in. At no cost to the state, all of the building trades have been doing this for years,” Kerr said. “It is done with an agreement between the labor union and the contractors that use that labor pool to work together to train their own people,” Kerr said. “We provide them with trained people and we share the costs and pretty much take care of our own needs.”

The IBEW has a five-year training program. Apprentices work during the day and attend school two nights a week. They undergo a minimum of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 900 hours of classroom instruction before becoming a journey wireman, Kerr said.

“For us, industry and labor working together to take care of our own issues has worked well for us. We train to our needs, we know what we need and we train to that with no assistance from the state,” he said.

Kerr said a few weeks ago, the IBEW and other building trades had a luncheon for state lawmakers and booths at the Indiana Statehouse to explain their training. “Why should the state waste tax money to create something that already exists,” he said. “If we have [training] like this in place, why can’t it be used as a role model for other industries.”

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • Purdue Shooting2.jpg Purdue shooting leaves one person dead

    A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Camm Steidl ISU Justice system questioned

    David Camm says that when he looks critically at the Indiana State Police today, he sees arrogance, ego and the desire for personal — even monetary — gain.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Purdue Shooting_Will.jpg THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs

    Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bosma Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee

    Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014 snowtracks.jpg We enter the deep freeze again

    If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014busses weir.jpg Levy redirects school funds

    If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.

    January 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana

    School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
    More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.

    January 21, 2014

  • MET 012114 DONNELLY BOARD.jpg VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board

    Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase

    After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.

    January 21, 2014

  • Death certificate delay angers Health Board

    The Vigo County coroner is not signing death certificates in a timely manner as required by law, according to the Vigo County Health Department.

    April 23, 2014

  • MET042314 glove.jpg MARK BENNETT: The memories from a baseball mitt fit like a glove

    Man hasn’t developed the technology for time travel.
    The smell of your old baseball glove can come pretty close, though.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Former Parke County teacher arrested on felony charges

    A former Montezuma Elementary teacher — who also had served as president of the Southwest Parke Education Association — was arrested Wednesday on felony counts related to alleged missing funds, according to Indiana State Police.

    April 23, 2014

  • Bucshon has commanding money lead

    Incumbent U.S. Rep. Larry D. Bucshon of Newburgh has a commanding lead in campaign funds over fellow Republican Andrew McNeil of Freedom for the May 6 primary election, according to election reports from the Federal Election Commission.

    April 23, 2014

  • MET042314 arborday dell.jpg City’s first Arbor Day awards named

    Terre Haute and its citizens were recognized on Wednesday night for contributions to the urban forest.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • kersey turner Turner skips House ethics hearing

    House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner skipped a House ethics review Wednesday but claimed in filings submitted to the panel that he did nothing wrong when he fought legislation that would have cost him millions of dollars in profits.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Activity Fair is Saturday at park

    Are you looking for fun, afterschool and summer activities for your kids? You can review options a the Greater Terre Haute Afterschool Network Camps and Activities Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Vigo County YMCA at Fairbanks Park, according to a press release.

    April 23, 2014

  • Children’s charity to conduct fundraiser this weekend

    March for Babies — the March of Dimes premier fundraising event that benefits all babies — will step off Saturday morning at ISU’s Memorial Stadium on the east side of Terre Haute.

    April 23, 2014

  • Villa Grove High School students win state anti-drinking PSA contest

    The State of Illinois on Wednesday announced that students from the eastern Illinois’ Villa Grove High School won the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s statewide video public service announcement contest. The announcement ceremony at the Douglas County school also served as the statewide kickoff for this spring’s Your Actions Matter! underage drinking awareness campaign.

    April 23, 2014

  • For Wrigley, it’s party of a century

    CHICAGO (AP) — For Wrigley Field, it really was the party of a century.
    Exactly 100 years after the Chicago Federals pounded the Kansas City Packers in the first game at the Chicago ballpark, Wrigley got quite the birthday bash this afternoon.

    April 23, 2014

  • Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NCAA President Mark Emmert believes college sports can address the concerns of union organizers without changing the entire model.

    April 23, 2014

  • Former Parke County teacher, president of teachers’ association, arrested for alleged forgery, theft

    A former Montezuma Elementary teacher — who also had served as president of the Southwest Parke Education Association — was arrested this morning on various felony counts related to alleged missing funds, according to Indiana State Police.

    April 23, 2014

  • Shots fired at cars, homes of Vincennes officers

    VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — Investigators are seeking the public’s help in finding whoever fired shots over the weekend at the cars and homes of police officers in a southwestern Indiana city.

    April 23, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: April 23, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.

    April 23, 2014

  • MET 042214 SWIM BULL.jpg Swim by 7 program

    Swim by 7 is a collaborative effort involving the United Way of the Wabash Valley and the Vigo County School Corp. As envisioned, all VCSC kindergarten students would participate in the learn-to-swim program once the new VCSC Aquatics Facility is constructed and ready for use at Voorhees Park.

    April 22, 2014 6 Photos 1 Video

  • Candidates file finance reports

    The Democratic race for judge of Vigo County Superior Court Division 2 boasts the most fundraising of all campaigns for the May 6 primary election.

    April 22, 2014

  • MET042214 earthdaymcclennan.jpg Mayor Duke Bennett leads community discussion on litter

    Talking trash in the neighborhood can get down and dirty.

    April 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Public hears about grant to clean up E. coli in Otter Creek

    Greg Dunham has known Otter Creek since his childhood. “I walked that creek. I lived in that creek and I was all the time fishing in it, so this was news to me” he said about the concern of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the Otter Creek watershed.

    April 22, 2014

  • MET042214 elanco.jpg Lilly to buy Novartis Animal Health

    Eli Lilly and Co. plans to acquire Novartis Animal Health for about $5.4 billion, a move believed to strengthen and diversify Lilly’s own animal health business, Elanco.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Men: Requests by missing IU girl’s parents too broad

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two men who were with a 20-year-old Indiana University student before she vanished in 2011 say in court documents that her parents are on a “fishing expedition” in their efforts to obtain evidence to use in a lawsuit against them.

    April 22, 2014

  • FEMA OKs aid for Vigo County

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by a January storm that brought paralyzing snow and frigid readings.

    April 22, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Air Force: $4.2B Saved From Grounding A-10s Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter
NDN Video
Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity