One way to find qualified glaziers is to train them yourself. That’s why Anchor-Ventana Glass, a non-union glazing contractor in Round Rock, Texas, created its own registered apprenticeship program, the first of its kind for glaziers in Texas.*
“Texas has licensing for plumbers and electricians, but it’s not so for those in the glass industry. We wanted to create a critical path to gain credentials for glaziers to distinguish themselves at a higher level and establish a base line of compensation,” says Felix Munson, president of Anchor-Ventana. “We inquired through a regional channel to get assistance in understanding the U.S. Department of Labor criteria for establishing our own apprenticeship program.”
“This is a way of increasing the pipeline of qualified glaziers. We weren’t finding them on the streets so we had to find a way to create them,” adds Dennis Bevans, general manager. “We already had a good training program in place but we saw some deficiencies. We took what we were doing well and added an educational component to it to create a program for someone with no experience.”
The result is a three-year apprenticeship program. Bevans says it’s focused on the area north of Austin, Texas.
“We’re not planning to go too far out of the radius of work we do locally,” he says, explaining that the expense involved in setting up an apprenticeship program is time, rather than money.
Bevans says it took time and effort to line up the pieces, edit the process and get approval. Now that the program is established and ready to go, the company is looking for people to begin the program. Anchor-Ventana is participating in job fairs as one way to find interested people. Bevans says the company wanted the apprenticeship program to be distinct from its normal hiring channel.
“For the apprenticeship we’re looking for someone who can commit. It’s different from someone walking through the front door looking for work. We want to attract someone looking for a career,” he says. “This gives a viable opportunity to people not considering college as a path for their future career. Apprenticeship programs give people a chance to get education without student debt, to earn while learning.”
The company intentionally didn’t put their current employees through the program in order to get a fair assessment of the recruitment and training process. Bevans says the company might expand the program later once they’ve put people through it.
Munson would recommend creating an apprenticeship program for companies interested in developing qualified candidates because it requires a full team commitment to training.
“I think companies in Texas are interested. As the word gets out more people will feel comfortable with charting the previously uncharted waters,” he says.
Munson explains that this program dovetails with the North American Contractor Certification and Architectural Glass and Metal Technician certification programs.
“The certification programs are a motivator. We have several glaziers now certified. It’s motivational and a great way to recognize tenure and knowledge. Someone can start in an apprenticeship with the ultimate goal of becoming a nationally recognized, certified glazier,” says Munson.
“We’re proud to be on the front end of an industry trend recognizing the value of training and development of employees,” adds Bevans.
*Editor’s note: While Anchor-Ventana is the first company (non-union) to create a registered apprenticeship program in Texas, the International of Union of Painters and Allied Trades has been training glazing apprentices in the state for years.