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IBEW 1253 Pre-Apprenticeship Program Introduces High School Students to the Trades

Andy O’Brien
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Students from Nokomis Regional High School are getting an introduction to the construction trades and are learning the skills needed to apply for apprenticeships in a new year-long, comprehensive pre-apprenticeship / Apprenticeship Readiness Program at IBEW Local 1253's Training Center in Newport. The program’s curriculum was developed by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and is used throughout the country. It’s the first time the curriculum is being applied in Maine, thanks to grant funding from the Maine Department of Labor and the Harold Alfond Foundation. The students attend classes at IBEW’s training center every other day from 8:30am to 10:30am.

“The program is meant to bring an awareness of the trades and provide students a chance to explore the trades to see if an apprenticeship is something they may be interested in,” explained Cara Flannery, Assistant to the Training Director/Pre-Apprenticeship Coordinator at IBEW 1253’s Augusta JATC program. “We give them a chance to practice those skills and talk to folks who have experience in the trades and can help mentor them.”

The program also helps give students the skills necessary to successfully apply for registered apprenticeships that provide debt-free education to get licensed in a trade.



Last week, the Maine AFL-CIO gave a presentation to the Nokomis students about what labor unions are and the history of Maine’s labor movement. The presentation included hands-on activities to understand economic inequality and the important role of unions.

Flannery, a former high school teacher and extended learning opportunities coordinator, says she found out about IBEW 1253’s apprenticeship program herself while looking for other opportunities for students who weren’t necessarily interested in going to college but liked doing hands on work.

“College is great and it offers great opportunities, but too often students don’t learn about other opportunities like apprenticeships,” she said. “What I’ve found is the Gen Z’ers are actually very thoughtful about planning for the future and a lot of them are questioning if college is right for them because they’re concerned about accumulating debt. They also really want careers that are meaningful and have value, which apprenticeships offer.”