EUGENE, Ore. -- Chambers Construction said its apprenticeship program is coming back to life after an 11-month hiatus because of COVID-19.
Last year, the pandemic forced the company to scale back its program. Hiring was put on hold, and training became limited.
Recruiter for the apprenticeship program Mark Harrington said there was some limited training over the course of the last year, but they had to get creative with how it was done.
“What we did was bring like three of them out to a build and then send them back to town to work on a job site and then bring three more out and just keeping doing that so we could keep our social distancing in-check and all that sort of stuff,” Harrington said.
Prior the pandemic, a normal class could include around 13 people at a time. Harrington said they had to cut that down to as little as three.
Now, the program is coming back in earnest and there’s a lot of ground to make up.
“We’re going to have to really run to get caught back up so that all of our agreements with our apprentices stay as close to the original as they can,” Harrington said.
Harrington said the construction industry lost some jobs in the beginning of the pandemic, but construction is a resilient and in-demand field. For example, he said the company received around 300 applications for just five available positions.
When the program gets rolling again, things will also look quite different, including masks and reduced class sizes.
“We’re going to be making them into smaller groups and doing it on different days and those type of things,” Harrington said. “But we are bringing back face-to-face training.”
Starting pay once you graduate from the apprenticeship program is $24 an hour.