LIMA — The featured speaker at the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Real American Sunrise session Friday morning spoke passionately about two things near and dear to his heart: skilled building trades and the City of Lima.
Mike Knisley, executive secretary and treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke to the chamber crowd about the numerous opportunities in Lima and the surrounding area for workers seeking to land a secure and high-paying job by taking part in union apprenticeship programs.
Knisley was previously president of the state construction trades council and before that served as president of the board of the Lima Building and Construction Trades Council.
He has seen firsthand the dividends the apprenticeship programs deliver, both to individuals and the community as a whole.
The Lima Building Trades, Knisley said, is 2,500 members strong, representing 16 skilled trades across northwest Ohio ranging from bricklayers and carpenters to masons, electricians and plumbers.
In addition to providing “great salaries and excellent benefits,” apprenticeships in the building trades are tuition-free, “meaning that not only will participants get paid during their training, they will also graduate without student debt,” Knisley said.
Participants are also likely to be able to earn college credits for an apprenticeship, which can be applied to either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Wages for apprentices typically start at 50% of that for a journey-person.
“So you’re looking at $14 to $18 an hour starting out, and after graduation a typical pipefitter in Lima, for example, will make $130,000 a year in wages and benefits, with numerous opportunities for advancement. The sky’s the limit,” Knisley said.
No public monies are used to keep the apprenticeships in operation. The programs are all privately funded by the unions and their partner contractors. Program participants are required to complete 150 to 200 hours of schooling by attending night classes twice a week until all program requirements are met.
“These apprenticeship programs are considered the gold standard of workforce development and are a key to the economy of the region,” Knisley said.
For additional information, go to LimaBuildingTrades.com.