The Lifeblood of Our Industry

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Douglas M. Dvorchak, 2019 Chair of the Board, ABC Keystone

As an association we perform many activities that are vital to our members. We recently visited our legislators in Harrisburg; we provide training and networking opportunities; we hold career development sessions, and we provide safety services. The list is almost endless.

Our most important endeavor will be celebrated May 16, at the Central Hotel in Harrisburg. This is the night of our ABC Keystone Apprenticeship Graduation. Educating merit shop craft professionals is paramount to the future success of our members as well as to our association. Not only are we supplying manpower for our jobsites today, but we are also showcasing future leaders in the construction industry. Apprenticeship has proven to be a portal, not only to a family supporting occupation, but to management and ownership positions within organizations.

The founding fathers of the Keystone Chapter identified the importance of apprenticeship and education early in the development of the chapter. Our apprenticeship program began in 1968, and we now have a total of 63 students scheduled to graduate this year: 15 in Carpentry, eight Construction Craft Laborers, 22 in Electrical, three HVAC, eight Heavy Equipment, six in Plumbing and one in Sheet Metal. In total, ABC Keystone had 352 students in our apprenticeship program this year. With the growing demand for hard working, educated construction workers, our goal is to expand our apprenticeship program to suit member needs.

Speaking of our apprentices, recently I had the privilege to watch five of Keystone’s apprentices participate in the craft competition in Long Beach, CA. The craft competition gives apprentices the chance to showcase their skills in front of hundreds of ABC members throughout the country. All five did an excellent job in representing our Chapter.

In addition to our apprenticeship programs, it is exciting to see the growth of our pre-apprenticeship programs. This gives high schoolers and young people the opportunity to experience a construction trade and have their efforts translate into a full year or half year credit in the Keystone apprenticeship program. We have had a pre-apprenticeship relationship with the Lancaster & Berks CTC since 1999. Recently, we have added articulation agreements with Lancaster School District, Milton Hershey, Cumberland/Perry CTC and Berks Connections Pre-Trial Services. Our pre-apprenticeship program supplements current programs in place and/or provides the entire curriculum. One school currently has a group of students at our shop and classrooms every Friday. This program is proving to be an excellent pipeline for Keystone’s apprenticeship offering.

We have had many successes in engaging Junior High and High School students with the opportunities available within the construction industry. One great example is our Construction Wars event held twice annually. The recent Construction Wars saw over 225 students visiting our shop and classrooms and taking part in construction activities. As we move forward, we will look for more opportunities to engage young people and educate them on the construction industry and what it has to offer.

April 29, 2019