Women seeking membership as apprentice ironworkers recently were able to complete a class with the University of Iron, the apprenticeship program of the Iron Workers District Council of the State of California and Vicinity. Women from across the U.S. were recruited to participate in the training program, and 17 women graduated from the course on October 3.

The women attended classes six days a week for three weeks, working nine hours a day to complete a total of 162 hours of classroom and hands on training to prepare them to become Iron Worker Apprentices. Classes included orientation, fire watch, traffic flagger, OSHA 10, First Aid/CPR, welding, and rigging. All classes included hands-on training to learn knots, measurement, oxy-fuel cutting, shielded metal arc welding, and material handling. The women traveled from six states, including 12 women from all over California, to participate in the program.

The courses were held at the Benicia Training Center, the hub for the Bay Area Iron Workers apprenticeship and journeyman training. The site also serves as a regional training center for the Iron Workers National Training Fund, where Iron Worker instructors come from throughout the country for safety and skills training.

“All of these women showed exceptional dedication to the job,” says California Iron Workers District Council apprenticeship director Dick Zampa. “Every one of them showed up enthusiastic, prepared and eager to learn.”

The women were assigned classroom work to complete at home before and during the hands-on training program and all of the coursework was tracked in the apprenticeship tracking system maintained by the Iron Workers.

“This program is designed to serve as a model for other pre-apprenticeship programs,” says IMPACT western regional director James McGuire. “What we’re doing here is designed to attract more women to the profession – to take the intimidation factor out of the equation.”