Changes At Renton Technical College

The year of 2015 has brought some unforeseen changes to the Seattle Area Roofers Apprenticeship Program. Renton Technical College has begun construction on their new automotive facilities. The old buildings made up more than a quarter of the total campus up in the Renton highlands. The school’s automotive programs have been an anchor of the school going back to the 1960’s. The buildings housed 7 to 8 separate automotive programs.

While under construction the school has had to find temporary training areas for the automotive programs. Negotiations with several off-site automotive shops/facilities fell short and so the school notified several programs on campus that their area was needed. Our training facility in building “A” on the south end of the campus was tapped to house the FORD program.

The school has provided a temporary, off-campus classroom at its school annex building for our night classes. The annex building is located at 3407 NE 2nd Street, behind the Greenwood Funeral Home. Most members that have trained at Renton Technical College know the graveyard across from the McDonalds at the corner of Monroe Ave. and NE 4th Street. Our classroom is now in the building on the street behind the graveyard. This building is where apprenticeship as well as all safety training classes like Fall Protection and First Aid will be held for the next 2 years.

The Seattle Area Roofers Apprenticeship Program has traditionally held night classes. This lets our apprentices work and make money during the week without having to take too many full time weeks off for daytime classes. Apprentices must still attend 2 weeks, full time day classes to complete a full school year. The 2 week, 80 hours of training is half of the State of Washington’s class hour requirement for apprenticeship students. Apprentices are able to complete their school year in March and have the rest of the year off. The program will provide an outdoor training area or the school will provide an area somewhere else on campus for these 2 week training sessions. These 2 week day classes are important and the apprentice must attend.

This is a big change for our apprenticeship program. But I see it as a temporary change only. It’s important to remember that we didn’t always have great apprenticeship facilities. We weren’t always at Renton Technical College. We didn’t always do hands-on training.

Apprenticeship means on-the-job training plus supplemental class training. People not familiar with apprenticeship sometimes don’t know that. You learn your trade on the job. The school is meant for added training in the beginning of a person’s career. While we’ve had to change things, some things remain the same. Apprenticeship is still an important part of what the union and union companies provide and participate in. State registered apprentices at a company provide cost savings on government work as well as private jobs. Some institutions, like city governments, school districts and corporate employers, require mandatory percentages of apprentices on their construction jobs.

Apprenticeship programs guarantee the industry will have people going forward into the future. The country is struggling with the fact our national infrastructure is falling apart. The solution is to rebuild it. That means more construction. That means more construction workers will be needed in the future.

The Seattle Area Roofers Apprenticeship Program can deal with the temporary changes. The program will continue to hold apprenticeship classes. We will continue to provide safety training. We will continue to register new apprentices so people are available for the union hall to dispatch to work. The Seattle Area Roofers Apprenticeship Program has existed in the Pacific Northwest since the early 1950’s and will still be providing training for our industry into the future.

Gregg Gibeau