The federal and state-approved program aims to address the skilled labor shortage in Arizona

Sun Mechanical Contracting, Inc. has responded to the skilled labor shortage in Arizona with a solution: a comprehensive sheet metal and plumbing apprenticeship program. The program, which is federally and state-approved, draws between 10-20 employees per session.

“As the economy in Arizona rebounds from the recession, the construction industry faces a challenge in hiring skilled labor,” said Marc Kinseth, President of Sun Mechanical. “We started the apprenticeship program in an effort to close the skilled labor gap while giving employees an incredible opportunity for advancement.”

The program was created in 2009 with the cooperation of the Arizona Department of Commerce Apprenticeship Office and the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are open to current Sun Mechanical employees and the process is competitive. Every student receives a minimum of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 650 hours of related technical instruction. After approximately four years, participants receive certification from the state and Department of Labor recognizing their completion.

Fabian Lopez is an Army veteran who began a career in construction after he completed his service. He said the apprenticeship program was one of the reasons he started working for Sun Mechanical. “The reputation of the program preceeds itself. There is a formality to everything, and everything is very well organized. They know what they’re doing so you try your best as well,” he said.

Lopez, who graduated from the sheet metal program in September, said the skills he gained made him feel accomplished. “I got home and told my kids about it. I put my ‘A’ tests on the fridge at home. I’m proud. It makes you feel good inside, like you’re a part of something.”

Kinseth believes that apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds. “Employees gain skills that make them more competent in their trades, and employers gain dedicated, skilled team members.”

The next sheet metal and plumbing apprenticeship program is expected to launch in the spring of 2018.