Graduates Strengthen Industry

September 28, 2010

Apprentice Technician graduating class.
Roger Allen, third from left, Coordinator & Administrator for Local 150's Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program, accepts a commemorative plaque from the first Apprentice Technician graduating class, which includes, left to right, Brian Mason, Dan Koch, Mike Brock, Jamie Wallisch, Adam Sweet, Paul Forward, Nathan Allen, Mike Leaver, Ken Dato, Jerald Buergel and Dustin Walzer.

Recognizing that the shortage of qualified service technicians is a pressing concern in the construction-equipment industry, Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers established a four-year Apprentice Technician program in 2001. On Oct. 8, 2005, the program's first class graduated, each man having accumulated 864 hours of classroom and lab work, plus 8,000 hours of work as a technician for a contractor or dealer.

According to program coordinator, Jim Yasko, the graduates have completed in-depth courses for maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing diesel engines and drive-train components, as well as hydraulic, electrical and mobile air-conditioning systems.

In addition, graduates are qualified welders, have earned certification as hazardous-material technicians, have completed employer-required OSHA safety training and are certified forklift operators.

Local 150 also has enlarged the scope of its overall technician-training efforts, says Yasko, by working with high-school juniors and seniors through its School-to-Apprenticeship program, and by providing advanced training for member technicians through its Journeyman Upgrade program.