|State of the Unions: Construction apprentices in Pa.
By Jason Scott
There are nearly 11,000 active apprentices in Pennsylvania, including more than 7,700 in a construction-related trade, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.
The Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Region cites a unionization rate of about 82 percent in the construction and building trades.
“Apprenticeship numbers, in general, are low now, mostly because construction programs make up the majority of apprenticeship in the state, and the construction industry has been deeply affected by the down economy for the last five years,” said Mike Schurr, FTI's education director.
Pennsylvania had more than 14,000 apprentices six years ago, said Schurr, who is on the State Apprenticeship and Training Council.
“There has been a slight uptick in numbers over the last couple months,” he said. “I can see an increase in my six programs, which is usually indicative of the industry as a whole.
If one gets busy, we usually all do.”
Anything to do with “green” is in high demand, he added, citing growth in electricians, glaziers and plumbers, as well as heavy highway crafts.
On the merit shop, or non-union side, the Keystone Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., the largest of the four ABC chapters in the commonwealth, is expanding its Rapho Township facility to accommodate growth in its educational offerings.
ABC Keystone has averaged about 256 students in five trades over the last decade, said G. David Sload, director of education. The average graduating class is 64 students.
Sload is projecting to grow classes to more than 400 per year by 2018, with an average graduation of 100 students.
ABC Keystone offers carpentry, electrical, HVAC, sheet metal, and plumbing and pipefitting.
The chapter is looking to expand to nine trades, including an off-site heavy equipment operator program. It will split plumbing and pipefitting and add welding and millwright apprentices. That would increase projections, Sload said.
By Jason Scott July 4, 2014 at 3:00 AM