Apprenticeship can be the answer to our survival, or it can be a failed attempt. Whichever it turns out to be is up to us.
Albert Einstein said, "We cannot solve todays problems at the same level of thinking at which we created them." What that statement means to me when applied to our apprenticeship efforts is simple-we at last have in place a method to mold and create a product. That product, our future membership, must not be developed by accident, but with a plan. We can no longer let someone join and see what develops. Rather, we must now select who joins and see to it that they develop in directions that further the well-being of our Union and our employers.
We must see to it that we develop apprentices in two directions.
We must have the most productive workers available anywhere. Each local union includes a percentage of members who have superior skills, attitudes, and work ethics. We must ensure that the apprentices-our future-are assigned to work with these members. Call it cloning, or whatever you like, history shows us that great people study great examples.
We must develop the attitude and abilities of our apprentices through education. They are the Unions future leaders and our link to the communities in which they live. How they speak of and view us as an organization will be reflected directly to their communities. Their success is our success. Others wishing more from life will seek us if they see our apprentices on a rewarding path. We must educate our apprentices on Union democracy and strongly encourage them to participate in our meetings. We must not allow them to receive their education and opinions by way of the job site rumor mill.
Apprenticeship affords us a great opportunity, but we cannot sit back and expect results. We must assign assets and commit staff to a solid plan-then make that plan happen.
Harold Avery, Consultant
Retired Training Director of
Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust Fund
Construction Craft Laborers Apprenticeship Program