Kansas apprenticeship program helps fill skilled labor shortage

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Apprentice Cory Crumley studies the technique of fusing pipes together to learn a trade to prepare him for a career.

“I came from the automotive industry. I was just needing a career change,” said Crumley, who is training to be a plumber.

Thanks to the Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Kansas earn while you learn model, it makes it easier to provide for his family while making the switch.

“There for a while we were struggling like a lot of families out there, and when I got into this trade and now that I’m making fourth-year wages, good money and good benefits, it makes it a lot easier not having to struggle week-to-week,” said Crumley.

Once accepted to the five-year program, students are immediately placed on a job. They will go to work for five weeks then school for a week and repeat for the duration of the program.

“They are getting 280 hours of classroom and shop experience, but they’re also getting at least 1,700 hours of on the job training while they are out there working for one of our contractors,” said John Clark, Training Director.

It’s a model that’s been around for many decades, but with rising college costs, it’s a less expensive option to jump-start a career. The program also offers college tuition credit for those wanting to work toward a degree.

“We like to boast that it’s a very reasonable option than going to college. To get college tuition credit, students pay $600 a year versus the thousands you pay at college,” said Clark.

It’s another benefit of the program Clark hopes will attract more apprentices to help fill the skilled labor shortage before it becomes an even bigger problem.

“Even in our own local union here in Wichita over the next five years about 500 of our members are going to retire so we have to fill that gap as well,” said Clark. “We feel like we’ve been the best-kept secret for a long time, and we’re trying to break out of that mold and show them that hey we’re here and we want to train you and we want to put you to work.”

If you or someone you know would like to apply and learn more about the program, click here.

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