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Union opens program to Putnam students

Kevin Mulcahey of Local 63 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union (center) Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD The equipment and training facilities at the Local Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 63 on Stevens Street impressed eight Putnam Vocational students so much, they were lured away from their pizza lunch the union had provided as part of their tour of the facility.

The Putnam students will now have the same opportunity as other vocational high schools to enroll in the apprentice program offered by Local 63.

The students toured the union's training facility last week with the union's Business Manager Kevin Mulcahy. Mulcahy led the group through a succession of classrooms, each dedicated to a different skill. From fabrication to mechanical drawing to computer aided drafting to welding, Mulcahy showed the students the depth of the training.

When one student questioned whether or not all of the classes are necessary to become a sheet metal worker, Mulcahy said, "The more you learn the steadier the work."

The union has worked with vocational high schools in central Massachusetts for the past several years to recruit students into the apprentice program, Mulcahy said. This was the first time Putnam has participated in the program, he added. The suggestion was made to Mulcahy about a year ago at the high schools advisory group meeting.

The apprentice program, which enrolls between 15 and 20 people each year, is free to students. The five-year program has 20 eight-hour weekend classes each year. Each year the students are tested before they can go to the next level.

Mulcahy said that on Saturdays, there are about 60 students in the program split up among the various classrooms.

At the conclusion they are certified licensed apprentices and are on the road to earn their journeyman's designation.

For more information, contact Local 63 at 733-8332.