Companies and industry organizations are looking to apprenticeship programs to bridge the skills gap and train the next generation.
Finding and keeping skilled labor is the top challenge facing U.S. glazing contractors. In response, a growing number of companies and industry organizations are looking to apprenticeship programs to bridge the skills gap and train the next generation. One such company is 8G Solutions, Riverside, Missouri, which developed its own apprenticeship program. Leaders from 8G offered some insights about the importance of training and the company’s in-house program.
Why is training and education so important in the glass and glazing industry?
“Education cures ignorance,” says Jason Legg, lead foreman/senior instructor.
“I always say, it’s not rocket science it’s only glass and metal, but it is a very dangerous business if you do not get good teaching at outset and always keep eyes wide open and be a continuous learner,” says Chuck Mowrey, 8G Solutions’ CEO. “New employees without proper training and supervision can be very expensive in this business. Best and standardized practices can help newer untrained employees learn faster. [For experienced employees], no matter who you are, or how long you have been in business, things change, and if you stop learning and get cocky you will get blindsided.”
“Knowledge and competence not only builds confidence, but it makes building civilization safer and more efficient for all to benefit,” adds Joey Diehl, 8G safety coordinator/senior instructor.
How long does it take to train a new glazier?
“I don’t care how smart you are or what college you went to, if any, it takes two to five years, with good teaching and knowledge around you, to learn this business and be successful,” says Mowrey. “In the first year, forget about having anyone bid or run a project.”
8G has been very active in developing a glazier training and education program. Can you describe it?
“We host a formal 3-year apprenticeship program,” says Diehl. 8G began using the National Glass Association’s MyGlassClass.com, which offers over 100 courses that are designed to complement—and shorten—companies’ hands-on training. “I can confidently say we leverage all of the courses contained within,” says Diehl. “Our in-class/online hybrid style of teaching takes these courses as a solid jumping point for fostering true personal growth and skill development while encouraging collaboration at all levels of our business whether enrolled or not.”
Who takes part in the training program?
“Although everyone is encouraged to take the program, most attendees are field crew members who are on the path to become a journeyman. We also have a couple project coordinators who are new to the trade,” says Jared Cosens, 8G Business Development/Project Manager. “Our classes are taught by our own Joey Diehl, safety coordinator/senior instructor, and Jason Legg, lead foreman/senior instructor.”
What advice would you give to others in glass and glazing about the importance of education and training?
“If you are interested in building a sturdy structure of any kind, literally or figuratively, you have to begin with a sturdy base or foundation. This apprenticeship course will help form and reinforce all of the skills you will need to be successful,” says Diehl.
Tell me about your experience using MyGlassClass.com?
“I have completed the first year of MyGlassClass.com, which is geared toward safety, as it should be. This bundle is a necessity for people who are new to construction and those who have unknowingly become too relaxed in their role,” says Legg. Additionally, “the benefit of ‘learn on demand’ was great for me because I am a self-starter and this yields to my schedule.”
“The ability for students to take the courses online has been an amazing benefit during the pandemic. The online ‘on demand’ format is great as we do work in multiple regions, and all have varying personal schedules. This allows us to stay on track no matter where we are located,” adds Diehl.
From a class management standpoint, “MyGlassClass.com has made proctored testing and grade filing a breeze, saving the administration a lot of time while saving mountains of paper,” Diehl says.