The number of carpenters, electricians and other workers learning skilled trades is on its way up again.
Apprenticeship programs are reporting increased capacity and demand this year, bolstered by an improving economy and big projects under way that call for specialized skills.
“When the recession hit, we got slammed,” said Ron Simko, area training director for the Indiana/Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters apprenticeship program. “Work is picking up again.”
The number of new apprentices in the Lafayette Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee’s program, headquartered at Ivy Tech Community College, has doubled over the past year. Alcoa Inc. in August took in its largest apprentice class at the Lafayette plant. The Indiana /Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters is trying to grow its apprenticeship program in the area.
The local activity illustrates nationwide growth for participation in registered apprenticeship programs, which are “training system(s) that combine job-related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Last year, the Labor Department reported 1,400 new apprenticeship programs nationwide and nearly 130,000 new workers entered the system, according to the Journal & Courier.
The numbers aren’t as high as they were in 2007, but they’re on their way back up. The number of new apprentices in nonmilitary programs grew 17.4 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year.
Program coordinators say the activity is a reflection of improved industry confidence.
There are 30 registered apprenticeship sponsors in Tippecanoe County representing 19 occupations, according to the Labor Department.
“We’re seeing numbers going back up, and all around things are brighter,” said Carol Korty, coordinator of the Lafayette Electrical JATC. <Read more.>