Women Welders Get Start in Iron Workers Innovative Pre-Apprenticeship Program
BENICIA, CA Women seeking membership as Apprentice Ironworkers had a new opportunity to complete a pre-apprenticeship class with the University of Iron, the apprenticeship program of the Iron Workers District Council of the state of California and Vicinity. Women across the U.S. were recruited to participate in this state of the art training program; 17 women graduated from the course.
The women attended classes six days a week for three weeks, working nine hours a day to complete a total of 162 hours of classroom and hands on training to prepare them to become Iron Worker Apprentices. Classes included orientation, fire watch, traffic flagger, OSHA 10, first aid/CPR, welding, and rigging. All classes included extensive hands on training to learn knots, measurement, oxy-fuel cutting, shielded metal arc welding and material handling. All of the training will be recognized as the women move into the apprenticeship. The women traveled in from six states, including 12 from California.
The Benicia Training Center is the hub for the bay area Iron Workers apprenticeship and journeyman training. The site also serves as a regional training center for the Iron Workers National Training Fund, where Iron Worker instructors come from throughout the country for safety and skills training.
"All of these women showed exceptional dedication to the job," said California Iron Workers District Council Apprenticeship Director Dick Zampa. "Every one of them showed up enthusiastic, prepared and eager to learn."
The women were assigned classroom work to complete at home before and during the hands-on training program and all of the coursework was tracked in the apprenticeship tracking system maintained by the Iron Workers.
Carrie Steele, one of the Iron Worker instructors said, "These modern day Rosie the Riveters are going into the construction industry motivated and well prepared."
This national pilot class was the first of its kind and was generously supported by the Iron Workers National Fund Trustees and the Iron Workers Executive Training Director, Lee Worley. Travel expenses were paid by the District Councils and hotel, books, tools, meals, and training was provided by the National Training Fund and Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT).
"This program is designed to serve as a model for other pre-apprenticeship programs," said IMPACT Western Regional Director James McGuire. "What we're doing here is designed to attract more women to the profession - to take the intimidation factor out of the equation."