Pittsburgh is full of hidden treasures. Walter J. Bentley strives to share with residents within the region the opportunity to take advantage of the apprenticeship program offered through the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union No. 5 and the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association.
As the Minority and Diversity Recruiting Specialist for the JATC, Bentley travels throughout Western Pennsylvania spreading the word and recruiting people 18 years and older to participate in the five-year electrical apprentice program. Upon completion, trainees become Journeyworker Inside Wiremen.
“It’s a great opportunity for males and females, anyone that likes to work with their hands and looking for a good paying career,” Bentley said. Speaking from his 40 years of experience in the electrical construction industry, he moved up the ranks which enabled him to do an array of jobs inclusive of being a foreman as well as sufficiently provide for his family.
Even though he is affiliated with the Electricians Union, Bentley indicated that in Western Pennsylvania there are 30 tuition-free quality apprenticeship programs. “We produce some of the finest craftspeople in the country,” he said, pointing out that the combination of curricula and on-the-job training creates a skilled workforce capable of building any type and size of construction project.
Other union apprenticeship programs are: The Boilermakers, Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, Carpenters Keystone and Mountain and Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters, Elevator Contractors, Insulators, Iron Workers, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons, Painter/ Drywall/ Finishers and Glaziers, Roofers, Sprinkler Fitters and the Steamfitters.
The Local Union No. 5 of the IBEW represents approximately 3,000 active members residing within 22 counties in Pennsylvania. Journeyworker Inside Wiremen perform installation and maintenance for commercial office buildings and various other buildings.
The five-year apprentice program consists of 2,500 classroom hours and 10,000 on-the-job training hours. Classroom training takes place at the IBEW Local Union No. 5 training facility at 5 Hot Metal Street in a state-of-the-art facility. OJT is Monday through Thursday and classroom activities normally take place on Fridays. During the summer OJT is five days a week.