ELM’s Apprenticeship Program
“And we did that for project purposes,” Project Manager Tim Rzeszutek was saying of a particular area of ELM Electrical’s vigorous and demanding Journeyman Apprentice Education Program. “But we also saw a lot of value just because we were giving ’em in-house training that was more focused on what we do.
“Ultimately,” he added, “it was better training than what they were receiving at their local tech schools.”
“Journeyman” may have the sense of middle-of-the-road or routine, but in this context it means “pro” and “big league.” The ELM journeyman can go to a wall box spouting a bewildering lion’s mane of wires – some white, some black, some bare – and determine which go with which, make the connections, and the homeowner merely comes to a neat cover on the wall, flips this switch for the ceiling light, that one for the counter light, and plug the coffee pot in that plug. The miracle of electricity is so simple – if one doesn’t think too hard about it.
But those learning to deal with it have to think very hard about it.
“There are a lot of guys that are so willing to help you,” said Alex Pedro, ELM apprentice. “Drop everything. Classes are great. Shop is great. I love it. It’s really amazing.”
“Here at ELM, we started out like every other electrical contractor – register our apprentices, send them to night school, and that worked well for a lot of years,” said ELM instructor Paul Asselin. “As the company grew, our needs changed and we started the current program a couple years ago. They’re taught the same lessons if they were to go to night classes. But we have the added advantage of having a hands-on lab where our employees, our students, can actually put their hands on material, build projects on the wall, make things work, get that gratification. They’re our employees – they’re our greatest assets.”
Apprentice Alex Alfano took quick aim on joining ELM. “I never had a lot of electrical experience,” he said, “so I wanted to go through this program so I could learn a lot more through the book and get some hands-on experience as well. We started by going through the book… If you don’t have a lot of experience, but you’re willing to work, they’ll put in the time and effort and train you so that, One, you’re trained correctly, and Two, they’ll have an employee they can teach so that you’ll come out a journeyman.”
Added Pedro: “ELM is training their employees the right way – not cutting corners. And I think that’s what we need more of in this world. Like, doing things the right way.”
And said apprentice Jared Borja: “We’re very taken care of here. Everything at our disposal, everything we could possibly need to do our own job correctly and become full journeymen.”
And Instructor Matt York underlined ELM’s goal and success with the journeyman program.
“The investment from the company is substantial, it’s never-ending,” York said. “It seems like so much of the company’s profit gets reinvested back into employees. I don’t know how I could put a value on that. I really do love it.”