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By Bryon Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 17, 1997

Facilities Management propels employees forward with program

As skilled laborers become tougher to find, the UA Facilities Management division is building their ranks from within.

In a partnership with Pima Community College, the UA started its first-ever apprenticeship program for unskilled Facilities Management employees, helping propel them to better paying positions and giving the UA a better labor team.

"These guys are loving the opportunity to move forward," said Ty Higgins, committee chairman of the apprenticeship program.

Classes are scheduled at night, so employees can keep their jobs at the UA while enrolled in the four-year program.

Once enrolled, students become apprentices in one of a number of fields, said Gloria Alvillar, human resources assistant director for Facilities Management. She said apprenticeships exist for would-be plumbers, carpenters, electricians and heating and air conditioning technicians.

To become journeymen, apprentices complete a minimum of 144 hours of lecture and classwork and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year.

The program also boasts adult educational classes, which include reading improvement, intensive English language instruction and a general education degree program, Alvillar said.

Higgins said apprentices are paid $8 an hour while enrolled and could earn a $15-an-hour starting wage as certified journeymen, Higgins said.

The campus employs about 140 certified journeymen who will one day need to be replaced.

Alvillar said the program began in September and will enable the university to provide its own source of certified technicians for any position that needs to be filled.

"We're going to have to grow our own," she said of the apprenticeship program.

The program was also devised as a way for Facilities Management employees to find mental and financial security in their lives through a satisfying career, Alvillar said.

Apprentices complete course work for the program at the Pima Community College downtown campus.

Alvillar said the program is open to anyone in Facilities Management who wants to be journeymen in these areas, but added the department reserves the right to select those that are best qualified for the program.

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