AUSTIN (AP) The Texas metalworking community may have lost its best apprentice but the skills he learned from his experience are becoming essential to the state’s booming economy.
That’s the view of Sheridan sheet metalsmiths Association CEO Jim Riedel, who said his members are looking for ways to help make that happen.
“There’s definitely a demand for people who can build up a business and do some things like making the flat sheeting, we’re not looking for just people that can cut a piece of sheet metal,” Riedeel said.
“There’s some very skilled people that are willing to do it.
It’s a skill that we’ve had for many years.”
Riedel and others said they’re eager to see how Austin and its surrounding areas can keep up with demand for sheet metal and other building materials.
The Austin-based Association of Sheet Metal Equipment and Designers estimates there are about 400 apprenticeships for the industry.
About 3,000 are currently enrolled.
Riedels own one of those.
“We’re seeing it grow, we’ve seen it expand across the country,” he said.
Austin-area apprenticeships have tripled since 2010 and are expected to continue to grow, said association president Jason Rieden, whose members include many Sheet Metal Attendants.
“The demand is so great,” he told The Associated Press.
“We’re trying to be the best we can to keep up.”
Riesen said he’s noticed a surge in demand for his apprenticeship programs.
“You’ll see a lot more people asking for a flat-out, non-tough, nonchalant, nonthreatening job,” he added.
“And I think it’s really, really hard to keep that up.”
He said he recently was called in by a customer who said he had worked on a project with his apprentices.
“They had a lot of questions, and I was able to explain what I did,” he recalled.
“It was a really good lesson, and hopefully he’s going to go on to be successful.”
The industry has grown in recent years, with an estimated $4 billion in annual spending and more than 1,000 apprenticeships nationwide.
The average annual salary is $56,000.
The association is working to expand its program and hire more apprentices to fill jobs in its Austin-area headquarters.