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Plumbers’ union showcases state-of-the-art apprentice training center, a cut above as state apprenticeships grow

By: Ethan Duran//May 16, 2023//

Plumbers’ union showcases state-of-the-art apprentice training center, a cut above as state apprenticeships grow

By: Ethan Duran//May 16, 2023//

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Plumbers Union Local 75
Work benches at the apprenticeship training center for the Plumbers Local 75 in Madison. The union reaches out to more than 300 apprentices across the state of Wisconsin. (Staff photo by Ethan Duran.)

After the state broke a record for number of apprentices not seen in two decades, some apprenticeship training centers such as Professional Plumbers Union Local 75 are offering training for high-priority, commercial jobs in  centers around Wisconsin.

At the Local 75’s Madison apprenticeship training center, the union offers upgraded journey worker training like medical gas installation, water heater replacements, welding and braising pipes, Assistant Training Director Paul Hanus told The Daily Reporter. The facility offers night and day classes with exams that go above the state level standard for plumbers, he added.

“We have higher standards in what we require out of our students. In addition to that, we expand on our topics, the number of hours in our schooling and type of topics that we teach are above and beyond what the state minimum is,” Hanus explained.

The facility took on occupants in February of 2022 and saw around 80 apprentices take day and night classes in the last semester, Manus said. The union works with around 300 apprentices across the entire state, but the number fluctuates, he added.

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin uses a different type of apprenticeship program that works through technical colleges across the state to teach apprentices in 11 trades, ABC Education Coordinator Leigh Emrick told The Daily Reporter.

The trade association works with trainer members, who are employers who go through an approval process with the State of Wisconsin before they hire aspiring apprentices. Apprentices are awarded with training while becoming an asset to their hiring contractor, ABC of Wisconsin Marketing and Communications Director Kyle Schwarm told The Daily Reporter.

“The ABC of Wisconsin apprenticeship program provides more opportunities for individuals. It’s a different way of approaching your apprenticeship, and you are employed directly with a contractor and are in control of your own destiny,” Schwarm added.

ABC has nearly 2,000 apprentices across all trades, including 585 plumbing apprentices, Emrick said.

As of April 1, there were 12,851 active apprentices working in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). In late 2022, Gov. Tony Evers and the DWD announced a total of 15,937 active apprentices in the state, surpassing the previous record of 15,757 apprentices in 2001.

Apprenticeships of all trades have been ramping up for over a decade; there was a total of 13,799 apprentices in Wisconsin in 2018, and a total of 9,801 in the state in 2011, according to the DWD.


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