Like many young adults, Erin Hause of Dayton began thinking about her future early. And though her father was a carpenter by trade, involved his daughter in many of his jobs and taught her to build, the 2007 graduate of Milton Union High School planned to go to a traditional college.
“I started going to Sinclair (Community College) for liberal arts and kept changing my mind,” Hause said. “I also majored in psychology and even mechanical engineering.”
Hause thought engineering would translate into a good career, particularly since she loved working with her hands. After Sinclair, she transferred to Edison State College and even considering becoming an Emergency Medical Technician. But she was floundering.
Hause said, “Then a friend mentioned that I look into welding as a professional career.” She made an appointment with Hobart Welding School in Troy and said it immediately felt right.
When Hause graduated from the welding program, there were recruiters waiting to snatch her up, and she immediately found a job with Northrup Grumman. “I want to Mississippi and worked on Navy ships and airplanes,” she said. When she was laid off six months later, Hause had an opportunity to return to Ohio and enter an apprenticeship program through the sheet metal workers union in Dayton that would provide her with hands-on training working side by side with experienced journeymen.
Hause, who, as a female welder, understands she is in the minority, said that never deterred her from following her heart. “A lot of people think welding is a dirty job or there is a lot of heavy work that females can’t do,” she said. “But that’s not the case. It’s really great for me because I’m doing something different every day. I tell my friends if they are not interested in welding, there are a lot of other trades, like bricklayers, painters and carpenters.”
Eugene Frazier, administrator of the Joint Apprenticeship Training (JATC) program with the sheet metal workers local 24, said that young people like Erin are more often beginning to question the return on investment of traditional college degrees.
“We are bringing in about 70-100 school counselors each year to educate them about our progams,” Frazier said. “We want people to know there are other options out there and you don’t have to come out of school with a $50,000-$100,000 debt.” Frazier said the apprenticeship program is a great way for adults to get training and valuable work experience at the same time. The program is five years long, but during that time, apprentices are paid 45 percent of a journeyman’s wage, receive full benefits and up to 144 hours of classroom study for year
“A first-year apprentice can make up to $21 an hour right out of the gate,” Frazier said. “And we cover the cost of their school. We invest about $7,000 into each student, so we really want them to succeed.”
Frazier said the application process is stringent, because they want apprentices that are serious about making the trade a career.
When Hause entered the apprentice program about 18 months ago, she began working at Kerber Sheet Metal in Troy.
Kerber President Kathy Kerber says that Hause is one of her better employees. “I was immediately blown away by Erin’s work ethic,” Kerber said.
Kerber said the demand for welders will grow as more longtime career professionals continue to retire.
For more information about the JATC programs and apprenticeships available through the Dayton Building and Apprenticeship Council, go online to www.daytonapprenticeships.org/ or call Eugene Frazier at (937) 898-7676.
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