Crain’s Detroit Business
Operating Engineers 324 to host open house for job training program
By TYLER CLIFFORD
International Union of Operating Engineers 324 is hosting an open house Friday to show off and attract prospective students to its Detroit training labs and career facility.
Spokesperson Alan Fosnacht said the union is looking to boost enrollment in its training program to fill hundreds of unfilled jobs, primarily in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning field. HVAC operators are responsible for running heating and cooling systems in large buildings such as Ford Field, hospitals and schools.
About 300 participate in the program each year, but the union is looking to bring on hundreds more.
“This program has been around for years,” he said. “During the downturn, obviously, the job openings were not as abundant as they are now, but now we are facing a job shortage. There is an emphasis to get people to enroll.”
The training occurs over the course of multiple terms, typically lasting for eight months, business representative Jim Arini said. Some programs are three terms, such as the basic refrigeration program, while others, such as the steam boiler program, are four terms.
“The non-member rate is a little higher because the member rate is based on collective bargaining agreements,” Arini said. “Our rates are based on community college’s programs. Our rate is a little less than the community college cost. We charge by the term.”
Arini said the union is currently re-evaluating program costs and did not disclose the costs for enrollment.
The union is interested in training to union and non-union members with a high school degree, looking to change careers or individuals out of the job market. Graduates will become certified as HVAC operating engineers, and the union will help place them in a job.
“There are a lot of job openings the union can fill and a lot of people don’t know these jobs are available,” Foscnacht said. “We’re trying to get more people enrolled, raise awareness that there are these well-paying jobs available.”
Experienced HVAC operators can make six figures, and the jobs include health and retirement benefits, Foscnacht said.
The open house will be held at the local’s Stationary Career Center at 1550 Howard St., Detroit, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.