Masters are judges at Apprenticeship Olympics

LANHAM, MARYLAND - Maryland's Apprenticeship Olympics is only one technique the state's Apprenticeship and Training Council uses to prepare students around the state as they work under the watchful eyes of construction masters.

The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council organized the Olympics and the training programs for the 40 apprentices. The 12-member council will meet March 10 in Lanham.

After four years of study, the men gathered to prove what they'd learned while the masters watched them create or maintain electrical circuits, install plumbing pipes and drains in a bathroom, set up HVAC systems and perform carpentry work.

They competed Jan. 24 at the Barr Construction Institute in Hagerstown.

When Jammie Shanholtz of Hagerstown graduates, he wants to open his electrical business using the skills he's learned in the last four years. After 12 years in customer service, he started taking classes at night and working as an apprentice during the day.

More than 28,500 apprentices in 230 different occupations have graduated since the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry created the program in 1962.

The council will meet five times this year at different sites around Maryland to create policies and standards for apprentices and determine which skilled trades qualify to train students, according to the council's Web site. The council includes employers and employee organizations and citizens.

Brian Starr, also an electrical trade student, is seeking his master's license and has seven years of on-the-job experience. He entered a company as an apprentice because electricians are always needed.

Judge Frank Traver said carpentry apprentices like Morgan Collis of Martinsburg, W. Va. have to demonstrate foundation building skills and put up walls complete with insulation. Collis is planning to continue his family's business after he graduates from the apprenticeship program.

Each trade has a board which licenses apprentices but the council will give the men certificates of completion for the program, according to Joan Warner, president of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.

Hagerstown city inspector George Parrish said everyone in the competition was judged by how "accurate they are in doing the job," if their final work passes inspection for function and safety standards and if the student knew the right tools and how to use them properly.



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