Original Date: 08/26/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Apprenticeship Program
As part of its contract negotiations in 1989, Weirton Steel Corporation (WSC) instituted a Multicraft Apprenticeship program as part of its existing apprenticeship training program. As a result of the contract negotiations, a General Control Committee for the Apprenticeship Program, consisting of three union Executive Committee members and three Company Management members, was tasked to establish guidelines and procedures to enable the Joint Apprenticeship Committees to administer apprenticeship and craft training programs. In addition, the General Control Committee ensured the training quality, determined the pay rate for students and instructors, established instructor criteria, and developed the training format. A four-person, full-time staff administers the craft training program.
The apprenticeship program operates under the Weirton Standards of Apprenticeship in accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. These standards spell out the requirements for apprenticeship including classroom and on-the-job training for each craft. Apprentice training consists of eight to ten semesters depending on the individual craft. Classroom training is provided with two, 18-week semesters, four hours per week. This training is taken by the students on their own time. The company provides all necessary books and reimburses each student $500 per class for travel expense.
Since April 1990, craft training classes have been conducted on-site at Weirton’s dedicated training facility. The Multicraft program consists of three levels: Expanded I, Expanded II, and Multicraft. The Expanded I training is mandatory for all craft employees, except those 55 years of age or older or with 33 or more years of service. Upon graduation, the apprentice receives a two-job class increase and a $250 bonus. The Expanded II training is mandatory for all employees accepting any apprentice bids. Maintenance Mechanic and Rigger/Pipefitter/Wireman/Crane Repair/Mobile Equipment Repair personnel each receive a two-job class increase plus a $250 bonus. Maintenance Electricians receive a four-job class increase and a $500 bonus. The Multicraft training allows employees to become journeymen in two or three crafts. Graduates of Multicraft training receive a two-job class increase and a $250 bonus. In coordination with a local community college, the journeyman can then achieve an Associate degree by completing an additional 21 hours of on-campus instruction.
Instructors are active, salary non-exempt employees and must pass written and/or performance exams in the subject area. A 40-hour, occupational, teacher-training course is required and covers basic teaching principles and learning methods; occupational analysis; lesson plan development and execution; instructional management; and student evaluation.
More than 160,000 student-hours of classroom instruction was provided in 1995. Besides the training provided for Weirton employees, training was also conducted for Washington Steel and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel employees. The income generated from marketing the training services outside Weirton resulted in a net profit of $205,941 which helped offset internal training costs.
A license for open enrollment has been requested, and once approved this will allow Weirton Steel to further market its training services. Weirton Steel asserts that the craft training provides increased productivity and work efficiency; allows employees to keep up with new technology; and provides qualified replacements for attrition.
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