Tafolla highlights benefits of Insulators apprenticeship program

In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (HFIAW) Insulation Industry International Apprentice and Training Fund (IIIATF) Assistant Administrator Sam Tafolla joined the America's Work Force Union Podcast (AWF) and shared his insights on the trade, the importance of a registered apprenticeship program and the future of training in the mechanical insulation industry.

A career with the HFIAW

Tafolla began his career in the trade after talking with friends who were already working as Mechanical Insulators. He was drawn to the industry because it offered something different from the office and retail jobs in which he had previously worked.

Tafolla moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and started to work as a helper. A year later, he began his registered apprenticeship with HFIAW Local 135 Las Vegas.

After completing his apprenticeship, Tafolla worked in the Las Vegas area until the Great Recession of 2008 hit. Over the next few years, Tafolla said he traveled across the country for work since there were fewer projects in Las Vegas at the time. Tafolla appreciated that he could take his skills anywhere in the country and work in different HFIAW jurisdictions. 

After six years of travel, Tafolla transferred to Local 7 Seattle. Once a member, he was soon approached to teach a few classes. For the next four years, he enjoyed teaching insulator apprentices in Seattle.

New position with the IIIATF

In 2022, Tafolla was offered the position of IIIATF Assistant Administrator. In this role, he assists IIIATF Administrator John Stahl with his vision for improving the training side of the HFIAW.

One of the most significant changes Tafolla has overseen in his new position is the transition to an online Learning Management System (LMS). The online LMS has several advantages over the traditional paper-based curriculum. 

First, it allows the IIIATF to update the curriculum at the click of a button. Second, it standardizes the curriculum across the United States and Canada, which is vital for apprentices who may need to transfer between Locals.

The mechanical insulation trade remains a hands-on profession despite the transition to online learning. Apprentices still learn the trade through a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

In addition to training apprentices, the HFIAW also offers continuing education programs for journeymen. These programs help journeymen stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices in the trade.

Tafolla emphasized the importance of not only apprenticeship training but also continuing education in the mechanical insulation industry. He said that the trade is constantly changing and evolving, and workers must have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

He also highlighted some of the rewarding aspects of a career in the mechanical insulation trade, such as working with your hands and problem-solving. He also noted the trade plays a vital role in our society in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

Listen to the full podcast here.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability or validity of any information on this blog, any responses or comments posted on this blog or any information found on any link on this site. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied workers will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers reserves the right, without notice, to edit, delete or refrain from posting any blog responses or comments or portions thereof that International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers deems to be offensive, derogatory, abusive or threatening in any way. This policy disclaimer is subject to change at any time.