The Journey of Garrett Giglio and Local 53's Apprenticeship Program

Garrett Giglio, who was recently appointed as Training Coordinator for Insulators Local 53 in New Orleans, made his debut appearance on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast on Nov. 15 and talked about the Local’s training program and the opportunities provided by Local 53's registered apprenticeship program. 

Giglio told AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc the story of how he became a Mechanical Insulator after graduating high school in 2017. Only a few years after topping out, he began the journey to become the Local’s Training Coordinator and now oversees a program that provides valuable skills and shapes the future of aspiring apprentices.

Entering the apprenticeship program in the fall of 2017, Giglio's commitment and exceptional performance was quickly recognized. In 2019, he was named Local 53’s Apprentice of the Year for his dedication to the craft and the high standards he displayed. He completed the apprenticeship program in 2022 and topped out as a journeyman.

Giglio soon began to teach part-time at the JATC, sharing his knowledge and experience with aspiring apprentices. His dedication to the JATC was noticed by union leaders, and in the summer of 2023, he assumed the full-time role of Training Coordinator.

Giglio then discussed the benefits of completing a registered apprenticeship program without accumulating student debt. He emphasized the hands-on training and the earn while you learn apprenticeship model that equips apprentices with practical skills and provides them with a stable income throughout their education.

The Local 53 Apprenticeship Program

Local 53's registered apprenticeship program is four years in length, with apprentices attending classes one night a week. The program delves deep into the intricacies of the mechanical insulation industry, offering a comprehensive education that combines theoretical knowledge with practical, on-the-job training.

Currently, Local 53 has 32 apprentices under Giglio's guidance, with a team of three part-time instructors assisting.

Promoting union values

Local 53's commitment to training extends beyond its apprentices; it also actively organizes non-union workers. Those interested in joining the Local undergo a rigorous testing process to determine their skill level. While some will come in as journeymen, others join the apprenticeship program for further refinement. Giglio noted that Local 53 apprentices earn more than their nonunion counterparts. The JATC also offers upgrade classes to help all journeymen maintain their high level of skills and ensure they have the necessary certifications needed to perform their jobs.

A vision for growth and accessibility

Looking forward, Giglio said he is focused on expanding the apprenticeship program, as he is actively applying for grants to support apprentices by providing essential tools and boots and covering the costs of training materials. This not only enhances the learning experience for apprentices but also ensures the program's financial sustainability.

The Local 53 JATC also is taking proactive steps to engage with the community, including attending job fairs and contacting high school students. Giglio and his team aim to educate potential apprentices about the hands-on learning process, the debt-free education and the prospect of graduating while earning a competitive wage.

Anyone interested in joining Local 53's apprenticeship program in the New Orleans area should visit their website,, for more information.

Listen to the full interview here.

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