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Butler Partners with Local Sheet Metal Union to Build Pathway for Students to Industry

Thirteen Sheet Metal graduates recognized at the graduation
Published: Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Sheet Metal Apprenticeship Holds Graduation

El Dorado, Kansas – Sheet Metal Workers Local 29 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC), a local union apprenticeship, is partnered with Butler Community College to give students an opportunity to receive a college degree while completing an apprenticeship with a Journeyman’s card.

Sheet Metal students go through a four-year program, working in the industry 40 hours per week while getting their training.

According to Brennen East, Sheet Metal Workers Local 29 training coordinator, during their week, they work with contractors in a 60-mile radius of the Wichita area. The apprenticeship has collective bargaining agreements with industry leaders including The Kruse Corp, P1, Mechanical Systems, Inc., The Waldinger Corp. and Central Consolidated.

“Apprentices are always working side by side with journeymen/journeywomen on jobsites, and sheet metal shops,” said East.

These students work with professionals in the field, specializing mainly in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and architectural building components. Safety is a significant component of “on-the-job” training with the contractors. All apprentices earn OSHA certificates as part of the apprenticeship program.

Two nights a week for three hours each night, students attend classes at the joint apprenticeship training center. On Saturday mornings they attend Butler’s location in Andover to attain college courses tailored to their field and business oriented credits including Business Communications and Technical Mathematics 1. With most of their education being covered through the apprenticeship, students take only 15 college credit hours to attain their Corporate Studies, Sheet Metal associate in applied science degree.

“All apprentices who graduate from the sheet metal apprenticeship program will do so with the associate degree,” said East.

For those who join the union, not only is the apprenticeship virtually free, but the union provides Butler courses at no cost to the apprentice. During students’ first year of training, they are able to earn approximately $19 per hour as well as take-home benefits. The apprentices also receive a raise each year during the four-year program.

“Apprentices graduate with no student debt,” said East.

If sometime during the apprenticeship a student decides to move, he or she is able to transfer to other programs across the nation. Curriculum is universal with the use of International Training Institute (ITI) training materials.

After graduation, journeyman wages start out at $34.91 per hour with full benefits.

Thirteen Butler students graduated from the Sheet Metal Workers Local 29 on Saturday, August 24. Approximately eight to 15 students graduate per year. The graduation ceremony was held at the Scotch and Sirloin in Wichita.

The Sheet Metal Workers partnership with Butler allows these tradesmen to be a more desirable workforce for employers.

BETA, a division of Butler Community College serves the region with industry-educated students by acting as the “liaison between the college and the industry,” said Michelle Ruder, director of BETA.

For more information regarding the Sheet Metal Apprenticeship, email Michelle Ruder at mruder1@butlercc.edu or call 316.218.6124.

The following Butler students also received their Journeyman’s card with Sheet Metal Workers Local 29 JATC:

  • Caleb Feigl (Rose Hill, Kan.)
  • Robert Flood (Newton, Kan.)
  • Mark Schnittker (Pretty Prairie, Kan.)
  • Curtis Emberson (Clearwater, Kan.)
  • Brandon Bollinger (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Noah Degrandmont (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Tanner Hudson (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Michael Ketchem (Wichita, Kan.)
  • James McClendon (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Christopher Segura (Wichita, Kan.)
  •  Hunter Ternes (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Zachary Washee (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Sergio Ziad (Wichita, Kan.)