Apprenticeships work for the door and window industry and other specialty trades. Researches from the Harvard Business School and Burning Glass Technologies identified what makes these programs work and how they can be implemented across other sectors. Room to Grow: Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships, a study conducted by both groups, suggests that the U.S. can expand apprenticeships from the 27 industries that currently offer apprenticeship programs to a total of 74 industries.

Carpenters, construction laborers, glaziers, and tool and die makers are among the sectors that touch on the door and window industry.

The report examined 23 million job postings to identify occupations with characteristics similar to existing apprenticeships. Requiring a narrow set of specialized skills without heavy licensing, having largely stable workforces and consistently paying a living wage are the three necessary characteristics for a successful apprenticeship program, according to the study.

There were 21 occupations identified that fall under the category of expander roles, or occupations that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, such as solar photovoltaic installers and computer-controlled machine tool operators.

Under the booster roles category, or employers that often request a bachelor’s degree despite the skills needed not requiring a college education, fell 26 occupations, including human resource specialists and database administrators.

Up to 3.3 million job openings could be filled by apprentices, according to the report.

“There are still significant barriers to expanding apprenticeships in the United States,” says Matthew Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. “But our analysis of job postings demonstrates that there is also real potential to bring the apprentice model to a broader group of workers, providing more opportunities to enter occupations that can support a middle-class family.”

Construction, glazing and the 26 other occupations using apprenticeships have a higher union membership rate than the national average of 10.7 percent in 2016. They are also roles with relatively low rates of worker mobility, with 47 percent of workers remaining in the same occupation for more than five years.

According to the report, “By using an apprenticeship approach, businesses struggling with skills gaps can take steps to ensure workers are trained to employer specifications—not to mention getting the value of apprentices’ work during training. For many middle- and lower-skills workers seeking to move up career ladders, apprenticeships offer a more viable alternative to traditional trade and technical schools.”

Anton Ruesing, director of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Finishing Trades Institute (FTI), tells DWM why the apprenticeship model works for glaziers.

“A registered apprenticeship program is key to preparing workers to compete in a global 21st century economy because the system keeps pace with advancing technologies and innovations in the glazing industry,” he says. “The IUPAT glazier curriculum is regularly updated to ensure that it is aligned with today’s glazing industry standards, which includes the handling and use of new technology and materials.”

The glazing industry aims to further increase the number of people applying for apprenticeships by getting the word out to the younger generation.

“The opportunity to be an apprentice and earn while you learn in a trade like glazing, one that is going to provide for a personally and professionally successful career, must be advertised to more young men and women, and not just by the IUPAT and the rest of the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). Word of these opportunities needs to come from our education system, starting from elementary school up through high school,” says Ruesing.

He wants to keep the apprenticeship program strong amid a healthy job market

“Construction is in high gear in North America and the opportunity to expand our apprenticeships matches the growth of the glass industry. The challenge is to make certain the programs you run continue to meet the advancing technology and techniques to produce the skilled glazier a contractor wants on the job,” says Ruesing. “In addition to regularly updating our curriculum with the aid of manufacturers, the IUPAT FTI is part of a committee of contractors, manufacturers and experienced union glaziers developing the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (AGMT) glazing certification. We believe the AGMT certification can elevate performance and recognition and draw personnel to the trade, including apprenticeships. We expect it to also help retention.”

Workers gain many advantages by entering into an apprenticeship program, according to Ruesing.

“Their years of training is free for them, which means no student debt. In fact, they are on the job and getting paid while they complete their training. They also have immediate opportunities to use their skills to work all over the country once they complete their apprenticeship, with higher wages and benefits thanks to their advanced training,” he says.

The program is also beneficial to contractors.

“Not only is a highly skilled workforce crucial to finishing projects on time and on budget, that training also makes for a safer workforce,” says Ruesing. “That all adds up to a better bottom line in business.”

1 Comment

  1. We are trying to develop a glazier apprenticeship program locally here in Phoenix with the major trade schools and getting interest is difficult. Maybe the glass industry doesn’t seem as sexy as other trades but there is definitely a shortage of skilled labor working in the glass niche.

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