CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 9


Connecticut's Construction
Apprenticeship Programs
Strive to Maintain Their Edge
By John Butts

Executive Director
AGC of Connecticut

Apprenticeship training programs have always
been a critical component of the construction industry
in Connecticut. Since the early days of CCIA and AGC
of Connecticut, union contractors, serving in advisory
and trustee roles on apprenticeship boards, have taken
an active role in ensuring the vitality and relevance of
apprenticeship programs. And with the current shortage of skilled trades, the need for quality apprenticeship
programs is now more important than ever.
Today's construction union apprenticeship programs
are always challenged to maintain their edge by incorporating new teaching methods that appeal to young
apprentices, keeping their curricula fresh and current,
adopting new recruitment techniques, and integrating
new building technologies and systems into their courses
when necessary.
Alan Bergstrom, training director, Local 478,
International Union of Operating Engineers Apprenticeship
Training and Skill Improvement Fund in Meriden, CT, said
that technology has dramatically changed the way they
teach their apprentices. Ten years ago, their training was
instructor-led with lectures and follow-up projects. Now,
they have changed to a blend of instructor and multimedia, web-based learning which focuses on getting
apprentices to understand how to access the information they need over their cell phones. Since machinery
technology is evolving so fast, they've had to teach their
apprentices and members how to keep up with it. They
are teaching their apprentices, especially those in the
mechanics program, how to access on-line manuals, parts
information, etc. In terms of technology, Mr. Bergstrom
said, what used to take three to five years to change now
takes six months, sometimes less. "We are preparing our
apprentices to deal with that pace of change."

One of the advantages to a union contractor of having
access to certified apprenticeship training programs is
knowing that the workforce will have the required certifications. Joseph Sabitoni, training director, New England
Laborers Training Academy in Pomfret, CT, says they have
to be adaptable and ensure their members are properly
certified in both safety and industry standards that emerge.
Lately, as pipeline construction has increased, owners and
contractors are requiring workers to be certified to plastic
pipe standards. So, within the curriculum, the Laborers
established a training program for their instructors to teach,
and their members to prepare for and take, the certification
exam. Mr. Sabitoni also said all their apprentices are trained
in OSHA 30-hour and HazMat both because it increases
members' safety awareness and the market is demanding
it. Bergstrom said, in their program, safety training - OSHA
10, MSHA new miner, or HazMat, to name a few - doesn't
stop. "Contractors rely on us to conduct that training."
Apprenticeship programs have had to get resourceful
when it comes to attracting new recruits. Most programs
continue to recruit through tried and true methods such
as career fairs, outreach to high schools, and partnering with pre-apprenticeship programs, all of which are
still successful and necessary. The Local 478 Operating
Engineers program has taken its efforts a step further by
advertising on various media sources to attract young
people's attention, sources such as Instagram, Facebook,
radio advertising and electronic bulletin boards. Such
efforts resulted in up to 600 applications just last year.
Apprenticeship programs are also seeing success recruiting veterans whose military training and discipline are
valued in the industry. Mr. Bergstrom said they have strong
relationships with Helmets to Hardhats and the National
Guard, and Mr. Sabitoni indicated that roughly a third of
their recruits are veterans.
Are there specific things apprenticeship programs are
doing to make their contractors even more competitive?
Mr. Sabitoni says they train their members to see the
big picture, that they have a responsibility to their fellow
union members and their employers. "We teach them a
code of conduct, that there's a way to do things and a
way not to do things. We want them to be a complete
player." Mr. Bergstrom says they preach productivity to
their members by seeking out the most current information
and techniques in the industry and applying them directly
on to the jobsite. Productivity is a constant awareness.
Certified construction apprenticeship training programs
have been around for a long time, thanks to the commitment and resources of a combined labor-management
effort. And as long as they have talented and forwardthinking leadership running the programs, they will continue to thrive and evolve to the benefit of worker and
contractor alike.
CONNstruction / SUMMER 2018 / 9


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2018

The Next Step in Transportation
Connecticut’s Construction Apprenticeship Programs Strive to Maintain Their Edge
2018 Build CT Awards
AGC of Connecticut’s 2017 Industry Recognition Awards
CAAPA/ConnDot Paving Awards
The 2017 Arthur Gruhn Excellence in Construction Awards
#TimesUp for the Construction Industry?
2018 Build Connecticut Awards Dinner and 71st Annual Meeting
CAAPA Paving Conference
Ethics and Compliance Summit
Joint Forces Luncheon
CCIA/AGC CT – Young Contractor’s Forum
Move CT Forward Press Conference
Index to Advertisers/
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - Intro
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - cover1
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - cover2
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 3
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 4
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 5
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 6
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - The Next Step in Transportation
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 8
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - Connecticut’s Construction Apprenticeship Programs Strive to Maintain Their Edge
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 2018 Build CT Awards
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 11
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 12
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 13
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 14
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 15
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - AGC of Connecticut’s 2017 Industry Recognition Awards
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 17
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - CAAPA/ConnDot Paving Awards
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 19
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - The 2017 Arthur Gruhn Excellence in Construction Awards
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 21
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - #TimesUp for the Construction Industry?
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 23
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 2018 Build Connecticut Awards Dinner and 71st Annual Meeting
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - CAAPA Paving Conference
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - Joint Forces Luncheon
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - CCIA/AGC CT – Young Contractor’s Forum
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - Move CT Forward Press Conference
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - Index to Advertisers/
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - 30
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - cover3
CONNstruction - Summer 2018 - cover4