Jack Laurie Group launches nation’s only Merit Shop floor covering apprenticeship program

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​​Jack Laurie Group (JLG), Indiana’s largest commercial flooring and interiors contractor, has partnered with Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) to offer the nation’s only merit shop floor covering apprenticeship program, the company says in a news release.

The program was created to boost the talent base of skilled floor covering installers and address the construction industry’s staggering workforce shortage, which began during the Great Recession.

With guidance from the Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA), JLG developed a four-year curriculum in floor covering installation culminating with a graduate’s certification as a trade journeyman. Participants are paid for on-the-job training, and a minimum pay rate is guaranteed throughout the program. Participants also have opportunity to earn an associate’s degree from Vincennes University free of charge, thanks to a grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The program has been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as an official or “bona fide” apprenticeship. This is the first time the nation’s labor department has approved an apprenticeship program in Indiana created by a private employer. Until now, all DOL-certified programs were offered by trade unions. Indiana is a Right-to-Work state, so nearly 80 percent of the construction work is completed by merit shop employees.

“This is a huge opportunity for the entire construction industry and the men and women who strive to make it their profession, and we are optimistic about the impact the program will have on the local economy,” said Tom Postell, JLG vice-president of operations and the program’s chief architect. “I feel responsible for finding, developing and supporting the next generation of construction tradespeople here at Jack Laurie Group and in our communities. Ultimately, the success of our company depends upon it.”

Following the 2008 financial crisis and housing debacle, construction-related occupations declined by nearly one million or 16 percent overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of those who left never returned, even when the industry rebounded, instead pursuing jobs that were considered less cyclical. This led to a critical shortage in skilled workers, particularly in the 25- to 45-year-old age group, and higher wages in the industry.

Hardwood flooring installers make an average of $52,477 per year, according to Salary Expert. The average journeyman at Jack Laurie Group also makes north of $50,000 annually, and the minimum starting rate is $18 an hour.

The apprenticeship program is the latest addition to JLG’s Jack Laurie University, an in-house employee development program that offers ongoing training and certifications in a variety of services and professions.

The apprenticeship includes classroom, lab and field training by the company’s own National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER)-certified instructors. More specifically, requirements include 8,000 on-the-job hours and 576 classroom and lab hours. The program is completely tuition free, but participants must have a high school diploma or GED. Participation in the Vincennes University associate’s degree program is optional.

The ABC Indiana/Kentucky chapter will host a graduation ceremony at Lucas Oil Stadium, including dinner for two and a tour of the stadium, for participants who complete the program.

Interested candidates are asked to visit http://jacklauriegroup.com/careers/. Click on the ‘register’ tab and fill out the short contact form.

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