In the face of a silver tsunami, union apprentices are high in demand

The Great Resignation means union building trades apprentices are more valued and needed than ever before.

That is the premise of a recent Dayton Daily News article that details the importance of apprentices to the local economy, especially as more Americans are quitting their jobs and reassessing what they want from a career.

“They’re one of the basic ways to grow our trade,” Tony Stephens, Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 Dayton Training Director, said in the article

The article was published following National Apprenticeship Week, which took place between Nov. 15 and 21. It detailed the benefits of union apprenticeships — the ability to train for a valuable career while making a good union wage with quality benefits, without the weight of student debt.

Stephens said the demand for apprentices only grows in the face of what he called the “silver tsunami” — a large number of retirements in the trades, which he estimated could result in the loss of 30 percent of the roughly 350 Local 24 members in the Dayton District over the next few years. The Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee’s Local 24 apprenticeship program currently has 63 apprentices, a number that is steadily growing. 

Apprentices earn good union wages, but they work hard for the money. 

“It’s a hard job. It’s hard on your body,” Stephens added.

The apprenticeship program is valuable to both workers and employers.

“The students, they’re more productive, they’re safety-trained,” Stephens said. “It’s better off for the student, and it’s also better off for the employers. … It’s getting them a pipeline.”

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