Taking it to the Next Level

Kristi Pronovost Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Blog, The Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: G. David Sload, ABC President-CEO

Anytime you want to take something to the next or a higher level you look at what you can improve or what you need to change. So it goes with the ABC Keystone Apprenticeship program. ABC Keystone has been providing apprenticeship training for the last 51 years. The program’s evolution has been constant and always asks “what’s next?”

Those that may remember the early days will recall that apprenticeship training was held two nights every week for nine months and revolved around reading and lectures. It was up to the employers to provide all hands-on training. As we approached the early 1990s, we adopted a standard curriculum called the Wheels of Learning. It was the predecessor to the current NCCER curriculum, which is recognized all over the country and beyond. Utilization of NCCER curriculum introduced the inclusion of hands-on training and performance verifications.

These changes created new challenges and opportunities: Where are we going to do the hands-on training? How do we accomplish everything in an evening class? Though our program was able to occasionally get lab space at the Lancaster CTC, we knew it would only be temporary. It was the member users that approached ABC about moving our schedule to daytime classes, so in the early 2000s, ABC Keystone started to migrate most classes to a combination of day and fewer night classes.

Knowing that the chapter had limited access to lab space at the CTC, the Chapter decided to build out a classroom and lab in the basement of our existing building. This project was completed in 2005, and while heavily used, still limited our ability to provide hands-on activities. With need and demand for better hands-on training and under the leadership of then-Board Chair Barry Miller the board decided it was time to expand.

Progress on the next level began in 2013 with the start of the planning, fundraising, and construction of what would be a 20,000 SF expansion, with 12,000 SF being dedicated to the apprenticeship and training program. In April 2015, we dedicated this new interactive training facility. The addition, combined with coming out of the great recession, revealed a nice increase in apprenticeship registration.

So, what’s next? I am happy to announce that the Trustees of the Apprenticeship Trust have tasked the program with moving to instructors who will each teach all classes in their respective trades. Equally, I am excited to let our members and our program users know that we have assembled our instructor team. The four consist of Tom Fasnacht, Director of Carpentry; Randy Doxzon, Director of HVAC and Plumbing; Chad Foor, Electrical Instructor; and Jerry (Junior) Brown, Sheet Metal Instructor. They all are passionate about their craft, and I’m proud to report, all are graduates of the ABC Keystone apprenticeship program.

Why the change? We believe this team will provide better continuity from level to level and provide consistency for our students and the program. In addition, this team will be able to coordinate schedules and training using each other’s expertise just like different trades on a job site. Other chapters that have gone this direction have seen a quantifiable improvement in their program which, in the end, leads to better trained employees for members.

If you are not participating in apprenticeship training, now may be the time to get on board. Apprenticeship can help you! A well-educated worker is safer, more efficient, more valuable, and more cost effective.

Reach out and contact cindyd@abckeystone.org to learn more about how apprenticeship can help you educate your workers!

July 29, 2019