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Building Trades Prez: Union Apprenticeship Program Equal in Size to 4th Largest Public University System

Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO) President Sean McGarvey recently gave an interview to the Engineering News-Record in which he discusses the role unions play in the construction industry beyond the physical construction of buildings.

The perception of union work is that it is highly skilled, safe, and provides a quality finished product, yet McGarvey notes that few people have a concept of the deep commitment unions have to maintaining the industry through apprenticeship and training programs. According to McGarvey, the Building Trades invest nearly $1 billion each year in readying the next generation of tradesmen and women.

In the interview (below in its entirety, though you’ll need to click on the correct video due to a wonky embed tool), McGarvey suggests that the training provided by construction unions would dwarf a majority of the other educational systems in the U.S. if compared side-by-side.

“If we (the training program) were a K-12 school district we would be the 6th biggest school district in the country…. If we were a public university system we would be the fourth largest public university system in the country. That’s how big our training operations are.”

For companies, working with unions means getting a direct pipeline of trained workers on the job site while helping to invest in the next generation of trained workers. Of all the advantages of working with organized labor, training is perhaps the most stark difference between union and non-union operations.  As unions continue to evolve their deep commitment to properly training workers for the jobs of tomorrow will play a major role in future success.


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