"Over your apprenticeship, the goal is to give you a variety of training and knowledge," White said. "After four years, carpenters will have a wide variety of skills. They are employable and will meet industry's needs."
At any given time, at least 2,500 apprentices are being trained throughout the state, White said.
"Our programs are jointly administered by labor and management -- 50-50 control," he said. "We fund them. We run them. We produce the most productive, highest skilled craft workers in the world.
The federal Fitzgerald Act regulates apprenticeship programs, requiring students to work at a variety of different tasks.
"You can't just come in and get a job as a drywall hanger," White said. "You have to do all of it."
Not surprisingly, White believes the job-training programs associated with the ACT Foundation are better than other options.
"Vocational schools do a good job of preparing people. But they don't have the ability to give students the full breadth of training," White said. "Community colleges lack the hands-on component. They are only classrooms.
"We bring the two together -- the classroom and hands-on training. That is a formula for success."
Applicants trying to get into programs affiliated with the ACT Foundation must meet, and abide by, certain requirements.
"Everybody has to be drug-free. Everyone has to take a drug test, then take other drug tests at random," White said. "Everyone has to have a high school diploma, or a GED, to get into our programs. That bumps a lot of people out.
"You also have to have your own transportation, since you have to travel to work. Typically, most construction sites are not near bus stops. But you can have a great career," White said.
Jeffers said carpenters in his union focus on constructing hospitals, schools and commercial buildings, not homes.
"We do a lot of training on concrete forming and making foundations," Jeffers said. "We also recently built a bridge in Parkersburg."
Huntington resident Casey Amis, another first-year apprentice, also attended training classes at the South Charleston center last week.
"I have heard the first year will be tough. But once you get through the program, you will have steady work. I have a couple of buddies in their fourth years, who travel everywhere in the state."
Amis said his first project will begin Monday at the federal building in Huntington.
"We try to build strong connections with all students in out vocational education programs," White said. "We want them to have a vision -- if you do good here, you can go on and have a great career."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.