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MASON CITY, Iowa - Learning a trade can be a very valuable and rewarding career choice for some.
Tim Kelley works in the welding shop at Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, and is receiving on the job training through an apprenticeship program provided by Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 33.
"You get to work while you learn, so you're on the job learning and working. Then you get to go to school 6 times a year...you have your mechanical code licenses, your plumbing code license, your HVAC/CFC licenses, your two-year degree, and you get paid for being down there," Kelley says.
In addition to the existing apprenticeship program, the union announced earlier this month they're offering a 5-year pre-apprenticeship program that can lead to a career in a trade.
Those who are admitted to the pilot program will receive a scholarship to cover costs, receive 160 hours of classroom training and 320 paid on the job training hours, and have guaranteed employment upon completion.
Travis Kiehm also went through an apprenticeship program about 7 years ago, and is now a journeyman pipefitter. He values those who are training through the program and complete it.
"They're very good employees. Everyone who comes through...they either learn it and grasp the concept, or they move on to a different trade," Kiehm says.
He also believes that learning a trade is very important to the economy.
"They employ a lot of people here. It's a growing area, there's lots of industry that people don't realize, so no matter how much automation with the building trades, there's always going to be a demand for people," Kiehm adds.
For those who may not have given it much thought, Kelley encourages people to give it a shot.
"You get to try plumbing, you get to try the HVAC stuff, you get to try welding and all those different things. You get to figure out what you like to do versus just going out and starting somewhere," Kelley adds.
To apply for the program, visit ua33jatc.org. Applications are due by April 30th.