STEUBENVILLE - A $1.1 million addition to the K.W. Gasser Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee Center in Steubenville is already helping the local work force meet employer expectations.
IBEW Local 246 Business Manager Kyle Brown said the 4,000-square-foot addition, completed last fall, houses five hi-tech labs. Located at 626 N. Court St., it's already being used for training purposes, he said.
"The industry is changing fast," he said. "We need to be in the forefront with up-to-date training that's consistent, precise and efficient. We can best provide that training in a classroom environment, a laboratory environment."
Years ago he said apprentices were taught theory in the classroom and practical installation procedures on the job, "but in today's fast-paced work environment" there's not enough time for construction-site training. He said the need for hands-on classroom training drove the expansion.
"It's a big investment, but we're happy to make it," he said. "This is our livelihood. We know without it, the best-trained, most effective construction workers won't be going to work. I'm very excited to have a state-of-the-art electrical construction training facility and instructors to (prepare) value-added construction electricians."
The Steubenville Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Committee backed the project, which was designed to provide increased skill and hands-on training for apprentices entering the electrical construction trade and continuing skills and upgrade training for their journeymen electricians, he said.
The addition was designed with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design "green" technology principles. Although they're still awaiting their LEED rating, he said they incorporated things like LED lighting, local materials, energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, along with a 4-kilowatt solar system that complements the 4KW system on the existing building.
They're also in the process of installing an electric vehicle charging station in the parking lot.
The program is sanctioned by the Bureau of Apprenticeship & Training for both the state of Ohio and U.S. Department of Labor. Its five-year program provides classroom training with computer and overhead projects under the supervision of instructors continually upgrading their own skills. They also get hands-on training in a number of other areas, including welding, lifting and rigging, conduit bending, motor control, residential, firearm and security, renewable energy, instrumentation, electronics, transformers, first aide, CPR and Workplace Safety, and they also earn an associate of technical study in electrical trades technology degree from Eastern Gateway Community College, all at no cost to the student.
While state and federal standards require 940 hours of classroom training and 8,000 areas of on-the-job training, IBEW officials said their apprentices must complete 1,500 hours of classroom training and 8,000-12,000 hours of on-the-job training.
"With the pace of industry today, the new things that are coming out, new certifications are required," he said. "We have to be able to provide that (training)."
Applicants must have graduated from high school or have a GED, be at least 18 years of age and have one year of high school algebra.
Brown said Local 246 services Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia, and Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll and Columbiana in Ohio.