Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini joined the America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on July 22 to discuss registered apprenticeship programs and the future of the mechanical insulation industry.
America’s Work Force Radio Podcast is a daily, labor-focused podcast, which gives voices of labor an opportunity to speak about their specific industry. The show is hosted by radio-veteran Ed “Flash” Ferenc.
At the start of the discussion, Ielmini provided an anecdote about his experience with his high school guidance counselor.
He recalled having good, great and high test scores, which left the counselor to automatically assume he wanted to go to college. When Ielmini told the counselor he was interested in the construction industry, the counselor told him to go talk to the shop teacher instead.
This created an easy segway to explain why many guidance counselors and administrators push students to attend college as opposed to seeking out apprenticeship programs.
When a school has a high number of graduates attending college, they may receive accolades or a bump in the overall rating of the school.
Ielmini then explained the difference between a registered apprenticeship program and “paper” apprenticeship programs. He cited Department of Labor accreditation for registered apprenticeship programs, such as the one operated by the Insulators Union, which gives these programs legitimacy.
With apprenticeship being a hot-button issue as college costs soar, Ielmini took some time to describe the benefits of apprenticeship.
He noted the earn while you learn model and how it allows people to learn and train for a career without taking on student debt. He compared a 22 year old college graduate and a 22 year old close to finishing an apprenticeship program.
The largest difference between the two is the experience gap. While the college graduate was taking classes in hopes of getting a job, the apprentice was building a relationship with a company or companies, while earning and saving money.
Shifting into a conversation about the future of the construction industry and the mechanical insulation industry specifically, Ielmini expressed great optimism about their future.
“Mechanical Insulation has a fantastic future,” Ielmini said.
He cited calls for more renewable energy and other systems. When these systems are implemented and need mechanical insulation installed, the Insulators will be doing the work.
He concluded his appearance by encouraging people to seek out and pursue registered apprenticeship programs because the work demand is higher than the available workforce.
Listen to Ielmini’s entire interview: