Over one thousand full- and part-time instructors at our local unions are the heart of IUOE heavy equipment operator training schools. Experienced and highly skilled journey-level operating engineers themselves, they’re the ones charged with making sure that future operating engineers are safe, skilled, productive, and respectful of the equipment.
“Local 49 has helped provide professional, well trained, safe and motivated employees.” Tim and Kenny Maki, owners of KTM Paving Inc., Duluth.
High quality, comprehensive training for IUOE members is provided by these instructors through 95 apprenticeship and training programs at IUOE local unions throughout the U.S. and Canada. These programs, usually registered with a federal, state or provincial apprenticeship agency, are jointly sponsored by IUOE local unions and their signatory contractors. This ensures that all apprentices go through a predetermined core curriculum. All apprentices are evaluated using written and practical assessments to prove that they have acquired the requisite knowledge and skills.
Apprenticeship is an excellent way to learn a craft and to earn an income at the same time. The system is designed to give someone who knows little or nothing about the trade the knowledge to become a journey-level operating engineer. The average length of an operating engineer apprenticeship is three to four years. During this period, apprentices learn their trade by working with skilled, journey-level operating engineers on actual job sites, and attending related classroom instruction and/or field training at the local union. Many locals are equipped with state of the art simulators for cranes, excavators, directional boring and motor graders. And some training centers have enormous, ventilated indoor areas for training when the weather prohibits training outside.
Field training can take place on or off the local union's site. Volunteer service projects such as building a neighborhood baseball diamond enhance the community while giving apprentices useful practice for working on a real job. Some locals have added mobile capability to their training. For example, Local Union 3 has a thirty-two square foot mobile classroom complete with tables and chairs for 8, a LCD projector, a VCR/DVD player, laptop computer, and a built in sound system to allow Local 3 to train almost anywhere
After completing an apprenticeship program and achieving journey-level status, members are encouraged to take advantage of advanced training classes the IUOE offers. This enables members to stay on top of technological advances in construction equipment, such as GPS, and other issues related to the industries in which they are employed. Of course, today’s apprentices learn the latest in technology from the outset. To be their best, members continually strive to build and improve their skills. By constantly expanding their skills and enhancing their versatility, members substantially increase their opportunities to get good jobs—and keep them.
"Our success depends largely on the quality of people we have hired to do the work. Union people bring with them a lot of experience and expertise."
Jerome E. Kuechle, President, Kuechle Underground Inc.