Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Ind. -- Jack Laurie Group (JLG) has partnered with Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to offer a merit shop floor covering apprenticeship program. The program was created to boost the talent base of skilled floor covering installers and address the construction industry’s workforce shortage.

With guidance from the Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA), JLG developed a four-year curriculum in floor covering installation that culminates with a graduate’s certification as a trade journeyman. Participants are paid for on-the-job training, and a minimum rate of pay is guaranteed throughout the program. Participants also have opportunity to earn an associate’s degree from Vincennes University completely free of charge, thanks to a grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The program has been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as an official apprenticeship. This is the first time the nation’s labor department has approved an apprenticeship program in Indiana created by a private employer. Until now, all DOL-certified programs were offered by trade unions. as a Right-to-Work state, nearly 80% of the construction work in Indiana is completed by merit shop employees.

“This is a huge opportunity for the entire construction industry and the men and women who strive to make it their profession, and we are optimistic about the impact the program will have on the local economy,” said Tom Postell, JLG vice president of operations and chief architect of the program. “I feel responsible for finding, developing and supporting the next generation of construction tradespeople here at Jack Laurie Group and in our communities. Ultimately, the success of our company depends upon it.”

The apprenticeship program is the latest addition to JLG’s Jack Laurie University, an in-house employee development program that offers ongoing training and certifications in a variety of services and professions. The apprenticeship includes classroom, lab and field training by JLG’s National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)-certified instructors. More specifically, requirements include 8,000 on-the-job hours and 576 classroom and lab hours. The program is tuition free, but participants must have a high school diploma or GED. Participation in the Vincennes University associate’s degree program is optional.

The Indiana/Kentucky chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors will host a graduation ceremony at Lucas Oil Stadium, including dinner for two and a tour of the stadium, for participants who complete the program.

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