Free program can lead to paid apprenticeships in skilled trades

Highly paid jobs are available, yet not enough workers are trained to fill them.  We're talking about the skilled trades.

From welding to pipefitting to construction, skilled trades workers are highly paid and in demand, as many Baby Boomers in the industry are approaching retirement.

FOX 26 Houston is now on the FOX LOCAL app available through Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Roku, Google Android TV, and Vizio!

That's why the Houston Gulf Coast Building & Construction Trades Council is again recruiting men and women for its free, three-week Apprenticeship Readiness Program.  

Some recent grads say they applied after seeing our story on the program last year on FOX 26.

"I was looking to see if I could find some courses, some welding courses, or a school nearby, and I came across the FOX 26 news segment explaining the program," said apprentice Alicia Gonzalez Leon.

The program prepares candidates for paid apprenticeships in skilled trades, such as construction, electrical, plumbing, and pipefitting.

"It also provides them with 40 hours of construction math. They go through blueprint reading and green construction and how we lower the environmental impact," explained Paul Puente of the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Constructions Trade Council.

SUGGESTED: Highest paying Houston jobs for high school graduates

The five-year apprenticeships start at $15 to $25 an hour, plus health and pension benefits and yearly pay raises.  

"Once they graduate, they're making $25 to $45 an hour. Plus the benefits; healthcare that covers the individual and his family, including spouses and children. And a pension for retirement," said Puente.  

Program graduates say it has given them the skills to build their own futures.

"I was able to see there are more options, like pipefitting and operating engineer, which is my specialty," said Gonzalez Leon.

SUGGESTED: Ways to cut home energy bills, utility assistance available

"I have learned a lot about how to be safe and keep others safe, as well as how to go out and give it my all, to show up and do a good job," said apprentice Clara Rangel Garcia.

Candidates can apply now for the April program online or call (713) 926-4433.  Interviews begin February 5.