This year’s Pipe Trades Training Conference took place February 12 -13 in San Antonio, Texas.

Training Coordinators/Directors and Trustees of Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees, some of whom are Business Managers and contractor representatives, attended the conference to learn more about innovative training materials and state-of-the-art resources and equipment, as well as to take part in trade related informative workshops. The conference afforded the JATC Trustees a clear overview of what the UA’s Training Department has accomplished and provided them with some educational information that would be valuable to them as Trustees. A total of 371 participants registered, which excluded the presenters and vendor participants.

The Pipe Trades Training Conference opened on Tuesday evening with an opening reception that featured an expo with some of the United Association’s most valued vendors. The expo gave the Training Coordinators/Directors and other attendees a chance to review new materials and to witness the operation of various training tools and equipment. The expo remained at the conference location through Wednesday.

Director of Training Chris Haslinger stated, “I would like to sincerely thank all of the vendors and manufacturers that took part in the expo. It is always extremely beneficial for our Training Coordinators/Directors and Trustees to be able to look at new equipment and to see emerging programs firsthand. It is an added bonus to be given the opportunity to interact with the folks who support our training programs throughout North America. I know the UA training leaders go back to their home locals with the same enthusiasm that the vendor and manufacturer representatives portrayed to them during the expo. It’s an honor to work with our vendor partners, as we strive to stay ahead of the curve for the benefit of the UA’s workforce.”

Prior to the conference there was a Training Coordinators/Directors meeting, which incorporated a comprehensive questionnaire that was geared toward providing the Training Department with valuable feedback on how to improve its programs. The training leaders broke into groups via regions and answered questions posed utilizing a student response system. The intuitive system featured interactive technology that allowed the audience to answer multiple-choice, true/false and yes/no questions operating a hand-held device. The system provided instant feedback, depicting the answers in graph form on an LCD screen in front of the meeting room. This was a new and innovative way for the UA’s Training Department to gain valuable information and important insight. Training Specialists will be compiling all of the data to evaluate the responses. One of the factors to be evaluated is if the responses were different based on what region the participants were from.

Plumbers, Pipefitters and HVAC Technician’s Local 142, San Antonio, TX, did an outstanding job as the host local, and it featured off-site workshops and working demonstrations. Some of the topics based at the local were interactive learning resources, plumbing fabrication models that came from Plumbers Local 68 in Houston, TX, HVACR, construction layout equipment, and a variety of welding processes were demonstrated, utilizing the latest equipment for GTAW, Tip Tig, orbital welding, Orbi Mig, Orbi Tig, cutting and beveling, induction heating, and wire-feed. The Plumbing Service Training trailer was also onsite for everyone to walk through. Many attendees commented on what a nice facility Local 142 had, and it was nice to see Business Manager Mark Potter and Training Director Frank Southers receive deserved recognition for their hard work during the conference. Director of Training Haslinger encouraged all of the attendees to travel to the local to visit its impressive training facility.

On Thursday, the local’s training center was crowded with UA Coordinators and Trustees, as well as a local plumbing inspector. The plumbing inspector stated that he was truly impressed with the facility, and commented that if he had known how impressive the expo and training demonstrations were going to be, he would have brought all of the city’s plumbing inspectors.

In the afternoons, the attendees took advantage of numerous, informative workshops. Each participant registered for eight workshops over the course of two days. Each workshop was one and one-half hours each and covered a variety of topics relevant to the trade. There were 21 workshops to choose from. Some were very specific, such as New Green Certificate Training Program GPRO, The UA Plumbing Service Program and International Training Fund (ITF) Grants, while others were more broadbased, such as Recruitment Initiatives, Aspects of Legal Issues and Implementing Successful Online Courses for Your Local, to name just a few. Everyone who participated in the workshops walked away feeling like they had a better understanding of the topic at hand, and they were excited to share what they had learned with their local unions.

The 2014 Pipe Trades Training Conference was an overwhelming success. It is clear that the Training Department is moving at lightning speed. Its members’ enthusiasm is infectious as it strives to solidify excellence and continuity in each of its training facilities. The Training Coordinators and Trustees are all on board, as we move into 2014.