Comprehensive Training Provided

Edited by Aram Kalousdian | September 28, 2010

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 Journeyman & Apprentice Training Fund, Inc. (JATF) provides training opportunities for new and experienced operating engineers.

IUOE Local 324 and contractor associations jointly administer a training center at the union's Howell facility. The training center is Michigan's only self-funded, hands-on training center, offering heavy equipment training annually to thousands of apprentices and journeyman operators from around Michigan since 1967. Apprentices learn on a variety of high-tech equipment, including cranes, scrapers, excavators, dozers, and graders. Students are also provided hazardous materials training, emergency first aid and other construction skills classes.

Apprentices complete a minimum of three years and 6,000 hours of combined classroom and on-site training. Apprentices that are accepted into the program begin with classes in safe operation, then move into field training on the 515-acre training grounds. Later, apprentices are sent to construction job sites to gain critical on-the-job experience.

In 2006, apprentices and journeyman completed 60,742 hours of training at the training center. As of August 31, apprentices and journeyman operating engineers received over 41,966 hours of training. From June 2006 to June of this year, 16 apprentices graduated from the program. As of August 31, there are 86 apprentices. The JATF provides an active placement service to its apprentices.

The 2007–2008 course schedule will again include joining forces with the iron workers on the JATF's "Raising Gang" project. IUOE Local 324 and the iron workers work together to assemble and disassemble a steel-framed building which educates members of both trades in the art of steel erection. The job site scenario demonstrates to everyone the essential knowledge of how to work together as a cohesive group.

As the project is ongoing throughout the year, the JATF is continuously in need of seasoned crane hands to lend a hand. Experienced crane operators who would like the opportunity to work with the raising gang should call Diane at (517) 546-9610, extension 1701.

The JATF is offering a 40-hour course in global positioning systems (GPS) at the Howell facility. The advanced course begins in the classroom. Classroom instruction includes Trimble's grade control system. Topcon's GPS will also be discussed.

"We have dozers, excavators and graders outfitted with the Trimble system. We will instruct our members in the use of this innovative technology in the site development of our very own on-site subdivision. We will use GPS in the surveying and staking tasks for the roadwork, earthwork and utility location," the 2007–2008 schedule of courses says.

The JATF is also offering an eight-hour GPS class in Marquette. The course will include Trimble and Topcon GPS systems. The course will feature the technical aspects of stakeless grading and the operations of the GPS components. This course will prepare students for the hands-on portion of training on GPS-equipped machinery.

A new 40-hour class is being offered at the Howell location to teach journeyman and apprentices the fundamentals of paving. "The course will start in the classroom, with continued training in the field so students can get the practical 'hands-on' experience on both the paving and rolling equipment," according to the 2007–2008 schedule of courses.

A supervisor/foreman class is also being offered at the Howell location. "This class has been developed to provide seasoned members with the knowledge and training they will need to become a team leader on the job site. The class provides training in job safety, scheduling, dispute resolution, reporting documentation daily, and blueprint reading with detail sheets. There will also be extensive work with math formulas, estimating and job costing. Then we will put your knowledge to the test in a real life, hands-on scenario as you work up a project layout. The last portion of the class will involve role-playing with various site scenarios that a project supervisor/foreman should know how to deal with in an effective manner," the schedule of courses says. Prerequisites for this course include a 16-hour crane rigging course, a 40-hour grade staking course, and a 40-hour hazmat course.