Ironworkers News Archive

2018  |  2019

Introducing the trades to the next generation - (2/18/2019)

$1.53 trillion refers to today's estimated U.S. student loan debt. With 1 in 4 Americans currently saddled with a student loan, the average debt associated with these loans is $37,172. Life is expensive, but there is good news. A four-year college degree isn’t the only option to help prepare the next generation. With programs like the ACE Mentor Program, students are exposed to other viable and fruitful options available after high school, especially in the world of construction. 

Demand for construction is at an all-time high. Coupled with the aging construction worker (the average construction worker is 50), finding skilled workers for a project is an ever-increasing issue. These workers wear many different hats and contribute to the rebuilding of this nation.

The ACE Mentor Program enlightens, engages, and encourages high school students in the pursuit of careers in the construction industry. Recently, 40 students from Dauphin County visited the Ironworkers Local 404 Training Center to learn how an Ironworker contributes to a construction project and the skills they need to get the job done. Their time at the training center included interaction with Ironworkers, an overview of the work an Ironworker does, and a hands-on tutorial of three aspects of the trade: welding (using a welding simulator), structurally reinforcing a wall with steel ties and rigging the frame assembled by the group. Once the structure was assembled, the students learned about the mechanical advantage with the use of a block and tackle pulley (used to offset the weight of a heavy object when attempting to move it without the use of heavy machinery).

Led by Ironworker instructors Curt Campfield, and Karac Ellestad and a representative from Lincoln Electric Welding, the evening was educational, interactive and engaging for everyone attending.  

“This ACE Mentor Program event shows students, and hopefully parents, that we (the Ironworkers) are a great alternative to college, and the debt associated with it. It also helps us stay proactive with our recruiting efforts,” stated Dan Hoke, Apprentice Coordinator for Ironworkers Local 404.  

While vocational schools and community colleges provide trade school in the form of certification and associate degrees, unions, such as the Ironworkers, offer apprenticeship training at NO COST to the apprentice, and training includes a combination of classroom and hands-on learning. Ironworker apprentices are required to participate in over 600 hours of skilled training, which results in approximately 3 years before becoming a journeyman. To learn more about the opportunity to become an Ironworker, visit our apprenticeship page.

The ACE Mentor Program has been active in Central Pennsylvania since 2007. Student participation is entirely voluntary, and ACE offers academic programs in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, and York Counties that begin in the Fall and conclude in the Spring of each year. Students that successfully complete the ACE program are eligible to receive a scholarship to assist in their pursuit of an industry-related education after high school.


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