For two years, Brad Tudor operated a welding torch in the fabrication shop at Edwards Moving and Rigging in Shelbyville, Kentucky. When an opportunity to enroll in the company’s specialized transportation and rigging apprenticeship program arose, he seized the chance.
Through the program, he is now traveling around the country, learning new skills, and improving his chances for better pay and a stable career.
Rigging is the art of moving or lifting objects using various types of rigging equipment. Edwards works in many different industries, including energy, petro-chemical, automotive, and bridge construction, among others. Projects may be located across the U.S., so riggers travel frequently.
The company’s program pairs rigger apprentices with experienced equipment managers and operators. The three-year apprenticeship involves 144 classroom hours and 2,000 on-the-job hours of training per year.
Each new skill he masters increases his value to the company and makes him eligible for a wage increase. Upon completion of the three-year apprenticeship program, Brad will earn a national certificate allowing him to work in any state as a certified rigger.
Brad and his wife are expecting their second child in April, and he believes this commitment will set his family up for long-term financial success.
“I feel this will help me become more versatile,” said Brad. “I don’t want to be stuck in one place doing one job. I want to learn as much as possible so that I can become more valuable to the company that is in the business of growing, and ultimately, this will help to provide a better future for my family.”
For Brad and the other apprentices, the opportunity to learn new skills related to transporter configuration, hydraulics, rigging equipment, and technology can be the difference between just having a job and having a stable career.
Danny Cain, the safety and risk manager for Edwards, views the apprenticeship program as a benefit for the company, as well.
“Like many industries, an aging workforce can be a concern,” said Danny. “Not only is it critically important to recruit new talent, but it’s more important to maintain the workforce we have and enhance their skillsets so that we remain viably competitive in our industry.”
While Danny describes Brad as the type of employee that exhibits the commitment and determination to be successful, Brad says the mentoring aspect of the program has been crucial.
“Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed here,” said Brad. “That’s one of the best parts of this program. If you have a willingness to want to learn, there are people here that are willing to help you better yourself.”
Although he is in the early stages of his apprenticeship, he knows that each mile traveled and each skill mastered brings him closer to a new career.
Eric R. Lucero is deputy director of the department’s Office of Public Affairs in Atlanta.