Submitted by Melissa Biernacinski
DuPONT, Wash. – The first class of the inaugural SMART Heroes Program – made up of eight U.S. Army soon-to-be-veterans – will graduate at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, at the Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC DuPont Training Center, 2725 Williamson Place, Suite 100.
Launched Aug. 15, the SMART Heroes Program was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. Military men and women who plan to enter civilian life within the year, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. Adjacent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC seemed the ideal host for the inaugural SMART Heroes class.
By Oct. 3, each of the program’s participants will have completed a seven-week course to receive the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, these graduates may choose to enter any of the 150-plus SMART apprenticeship programs in the United States and be provided direct entry and advanced placement as a second-year sheet metal apprentice, including a high probability of obtaining second-year apprentice wages and benefits.
SMART Heroes was established by the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), in collaboration with SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC and Helmets to Hardhats.
“Military veterans have the ideal qualities we look for in candidates for our apprenticeship programs — work ethic, maturity and discipline, to name a few,” said James Page, administrator for the International Training Institute (ITI) for the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry. “Their skills acquired during their time of service can easily be applied on the work site, and it is our honor to assist these U.S. heroes as they transition to civilian life.”
The ITI, which develops the curricula for more than 150 sheet metal training facilities across the United States and Canada, developed a training program specifically for veterans transitioning from service, and all training is focused on areas experiencing the greatest market demand: industrial/welding, architectural, testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) and detailing.
The McChord Field Education & Training Center provided support to the program by helping identify and screen potential candidates.
Nearly 250,000 service members transition out of the armed services every year. Many of these veterans have an interest in the building and construction trades and have registered with the Helmets to Hardhats program. It is the intent of the SMART Heroes Program to work closely and cooperatively with Helmets to Hardhats to ensure veterans have a broad selection of construction trades available to them if they complete the program and decide the sheet metal industry is or is not the correct fit. Therefore, the initial step for military personnel who are interested in the SMART Hero Program is to first register with Helmets to Hardhats.
Upon the ongoing success of Western Washington’s SMART Heroes program, SMART Heroes’ creators intend to pursue SMART Heroes program partnerships with military bases throughout the country.
More than 14,000 apprentices are registered at over 150 training facilities across the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
The ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), welding and industrial, architectural and ornamental, and service and testing, adjusting and balancing industry throughout the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, the ITI develops and produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.
For more information about the ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.