More trades added to the Yale Facilities’ apprentice programs

November 19, 2021

There are now even more opportunities available in Yale Facilities through a variety of apprenticeship programs created through a partnership between Facilities and Local 35 leadership. The new and old programs all promote in-house job advancement, help fill open positions, and reduce the skills void created by many recent and future retirements.

“These programs have a two-fold positive result. They fill a need the university has for skilled labor in the trades. Also, it helps internal candidates move up the ladder and improve their lives with newly acquired skills and a higher wage. For many, it can be life-changing,” said Michael Pizzella, Associate Director, Physical Plant Operations at Yale.

In 2014, Yale Facilities introduced a painter’s apprentice program. Partnering with Local 35, the program allows current union employees to learn a trade and advance to a higher-level labor grade. To date, this successful three-year program has graduated twelve painters and continues to thrive—120 internal candidates applied for six open spots. 

In 2019, the program expanded to include the mechanical and electrical trades: electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). The first mechanical group is expected to graduate in 2024, after passing tests needed to receive state licensing.

The electrical apprenticeship was instituted after the first two programs and includes a partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 90. IBEW 90 runs a state indentured apprentice program offering classroom training that Yale’s apprentices attend.

“Our electrical apprentices, like the other mechanical trades, get real-time training on campus. But they also acquire state-required classroom hours through this association with Local 90,” said Brian Page, Manager of Campus Electrical Infrastructure at Yale. Due to these programs’ overall success and the growing need for skilled craftsmen, the lineup is growing.

Recently, Facilities leadership expanded the program to include a four-year carpentry apprentice program. The first session, which began Monday, November 1, includes three internal transfers from Yale Hospitality and Facilities Grounds Maintenance and the program’s first women to participate, Ashlee Griffin and Lakiya Gaye. Given its nascent status, it is a work in progress, and leadership expects to tweak it moving forward.

Carpentry apprenticeship – a work in progress

Like the other groups, new trainees are paired up with a journeyman carpenter and work alongside them for up to four years to acquire hands-on experience. Unlike the mechanical trades that require state licensing, the carpentry apprenticeship is a homegrown, in-house program designed to give individuals carpentry experience through hands-on training. Once participants graduate from the program, they are promoted to a higher-level labor grade and receive a salary increase.

“We are developing this new program as we go and trying to give the trainees a wide variety of projects to work on. Different parts of the campus have different needs; on central campus, it is tons of door repairs; at the School of Medicine, there is more framing and sheet rocking needed. At West Campus, there are lots of ceiling tile repairs needed, so they get to work on all that,” said Scott Neeley, Senior Supervisor Carpenter, Millwork and Painting at Yale.

What’s next?

“This program creates excellent opportunities for people to learn a new trade and change their career paths. Also, it provides our existing skilled workforce the opportunity to mentor and teach. They know a lot, have been in the trades a long time, and are more than willing to pass on their skills and mentor the apprentices. Another plus, it creates a robust future workforce that is right for the University’s growing needs,” said Anthony Kosior, Director of Facilities Operations.

There is general excitement around this overall program and its possibilities for growth and expansion. Yale and Local 35 leadership continue to discuss the opportunity to include additional trades such as masonry and glazing. Stay tuned.

By the numbers

The current Yale Facilities apprentice programs include the following: 
  • Electrician apprentices: Zephaniah Willoughby, Michael Jackson, Aaron Smith, and Rodney Williams
  • HVAC apprentices: Mark Spadacenta and Korrey Wallace
  • Plumbing apprentices: Corey Harris and Jason Ritter
  • Carpenter apprentices: Ashley Griffin, Lakiya Gaye, and Stephen Ferriola

The current graduates of the Yale Facilities painting apprentice program include the following:

  • In December 2020, six painters graduated from the program:
    • Stacia Bowers, Thomas Mozell, Megan Pullen, Nicholas Simiola, Kenny Smith, and Brandon Spruill
  • In 2017, five painters graduated from the first program:
    • Jerry Bryant, Lee Mack, Timothy Marton, Sean Moore, and Kendal Threat