With National Apprenticeship Week underway, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Training Institute (ITI) Program Administrator Mike Harris joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss their training program and how they are working to get military service members into careers.
Harris began by discussing SMART Heroes, a pre-apprenticeship program that trains active-duty, transitioning military service members for a career in the sheet metal industry.
The program is doing well according to Harris. It began in DuPont, WA near Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The DuPont training center has a history of training veterans for their next careers and seemed the perfect place to launch the program.
More recently, the program has expanded to Colorado Springs, CO. This has allowed SMART to reach more veterans and continue replenishing their ranks with highly motivated individuals.
The biggest advantage of the SMART Heroes program is when service members begin to graduate from the seven-week program and transition out of the service. Graduates are placed with SMART signatory contractors and gain direct entry into any of the ITI training schools.
When the veterans enter these ITI programs they are considered second year apprentices and are provided the wages and benefits of a second year apprentice.
Harris said the program has been good about getting top tier candidates who complete the program at a high rate.
He said the future goals of the program are to bolster their existing locations to take on even more students and then to potentially even expand from their two current locations to other parts of the U.S.