Carpentry apprenticeship partnership expands opportunities for students

Students in the Construction Trades program at the Elkhart Area Career Center have a new and exciting opportunity this year. The EACC has entered into an agreement with the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program.

“This partnership allows our students to complete our career center program and continue their education through an apprenticeship program,” said Dennis Teegarden, construction trades instructor at EACC. “With this agreement, our students will not only have direct entry into the program, but also the first year of the four-year program already completed.”

Curriculum in the EACC’s construction trades program mirrors the curriculum of the IKORCC apprenticeship program, which aligns to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters standards. Upon successful completion of the IKORCC apprenticeship program, an apprentice earns a Journeyman’s card – the gold standard that recognizes training in the construction world, and provides the best opportunities for employment. Journeyman’s cards are recognized across the country, and even across the world.

“Completing an apprenticeship program is a huge advantage for someone who wants to work in the construction field,” said Teegarden.  “As a person goes through the program, it’s a mix of academics and classroom work, as well as hands-on work at a real-world worksite. Apprenticeships are paid – and paid well – because of the high demand for skilled workers.”

Individuals going through an apprenticeship program are paid wages – usually starting around $15 an hour, plus a benefits package that is worth about $18 an hour, meaning they are in the $60,000 a year range, according to Teegarden. The construction field is one of the last fields that provide a fully paid benefits package, as well as a retirement package.

There are currently 14 different construction apprenticeship programs in the field of construction, including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and ironworkers.

“We chose to partner with a carpenters apprenticeship program because all of the other specific areas of construction depend on carpentry,” said Teegarden. “Electricians and plumbers need to have basic carpentry knowledge to do their jobs. Students completing the EACC construction trades program will have a great platform and knowledge base to go into any of the 14 construction apprenticeship opportunities. They’ll study a curriculum that aligns with real-world knowledge and have a good base to start with, plus hands-on experience at our construction site as we build a house.”  Teegarden hopes to work with other apprenticeship programs to secure a commitment of direct entry upon successful completion of the EACC construction trades program.

Teegarden believes it’s important for today’s students to understand the opportunities ahead of them, whether it’s college, apprenticeship, career, or military, as well as understand the future need for skilled trades workers.

“Thirty years ago, there was a tremendous push for high school graduates to go to college. We’re nearing the point of where the last generation who advocated for careers in the trades is preparing to retire. The job market for construction trades is expected to grow exponentially in the very near future. This is a great time to get into the trades. With starting at an annual wage package of $60,000 out of high school, this is a field where graduates can earn quite a bit of money. People who complete an apprenticeship aren’t always on the front line of construction – many of them go on to managerial roles, where the earning potential is even greater.”

The EACC is partnering with the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters based in Warsaw, Indiana. For additional information on IKORCC:

construction site