Upcoming large projects to create jobs for local welders, HVAC fabricators

FAIRFAX, Va. – The Atlanta area is in the middle of a drought, and it has nothing to do with this season’s snowfall. With major construction projects on the horizon – such as the new Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons stadiums, the renovation of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the Vogtle nuclear power plant – Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 85 is seeking qualified apprentices.

“We want somebody who is looking for a career, not just a job,” said Alan Still, apprentice coordinator at Local No. 85’s training center. “We want those who want to get in there and go to work. They’re not afraid of hard work.”

The International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, provides curriculum for four- or five-year programs at 160 training centers across the country. Apprentices accepted into the program graduate with zero tuition debt.

The jobs highest in demand are welders, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) fabricators and installers. Once buildings are complete, testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) specialists will be needed to get the HVAC systems up and running at efficient levels.

Applicants must have a high school diploma, or equivalent, and pass an entrance exam. For some of the federally funded job sites, such as Vogtle, apprentices will be required to go through a federal background check before being permitted to work.

“We want top-notch people,” Still said. “Our industry can’t afford to take just anybody. We need someone who is going to produce.”

Due to the influx of work scheduled to hit the Atlanta area in the next year or so, Local No. 85 is adding an apprenticeship class to the 2014 roster in addition to the two previously scheduled as well as recruiting qualified applicants.

“When I joined the apprenticeship, I looked at it as a great opportunity. I did the best job I could and because of that, I’m where I am today,” Still said. “We need applicants like that.”

Currently, 40 applicants will be accepted into two apprenticeship classes in August. An additional class of 22 apprentices began training in February. To plan for the future work at the Vogtle project, Local No. 85 has leased a 5,200-square-foot building near the job site in Augusta. The building will house a welding school, fabrication and lagging shop and TAB lab.

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at the 160 training facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).  

ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and Canada. Located in Fairfax, Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about ITI, visit www.sheetmetal-iti.org or call 703-739-7200.

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