Pantex announces new apprenticeship program

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A new apprenticeship program at Pantex was signed and submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS) and the Metal Trades Council (MTC) on April 7, according to a press release from CNS.

“We seek to hire the best talent available to provide career-enhancing assignments that improve our
site,” said Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes. “The apprenticeship program will serve Pantex and job
seekers by training workers for jobs with promising futures.”

CNS said that although the previous apprenticeship program was discontinued in the late 1980s, the new apprentices are full-time positions and employees will get paid as they learn the job.

“The new program’s implementation will improve community involvement and help us prepare for the future,” said David McCown, Pantex Infrastructure manager. “Pantex is a unique place to work. The program will allow us to recruit and train specifically for the support we provide to operations.”

The new program took two years to implement and required persistence from Pantex Infrastructure, Operations, Legal, Labor Relations, the MTC. Y-12 National Security Complex, DOL, and the United Association Local Union 404 (Plumbers and Pipefitters union), who assisted with training for the new program, the CNS said.

Tonya Detten, acting manager of Pantex Labor Relations said, “Recruiting qualified trades workers is becoming a challenge given the nature of the competitive labor market.”

Detten continued, “These crafts take a very specific skill and require very technical training, including classroom training and supervised hours doing the work. That is where the apprenticeship program comes in; our journeymen can teach newcomers the trade and how it’s done at Pantex.”

Pantex will first accept pipefitters apprentices with plans to expand other positions, the CNS said.

“The local Union Association of Pipefitters and Plumbers Union stepped in with local curriculum,
classroom, and trade knowledge to get us off the ground and running,” Detten said. “We just took what COVID gave us and we figured out a way to make it work, and we look towards adding other trades as COVID restrictions are lifted.”

According to the press release, the Apprentice training period will take around 4 years and, once completed, they are employed as journey-level craftsmen and are paid on a ‘sliding-scale’ in accordance with their training and experience.

Gabe Pugh, deputy manager NNSA Production Office, Pantex, said, “It is great to see the reestablished apprentice program at Pantex, as it will set the stage for bringing the next generation of trades stewards that will maintain our infrastructure,” Pugh said. “They are critical to the success of our mission at Pantex.”

CNS expects to have the first five pipefitter apprentices onboard at Pantex by the end of the 2021 fiscal year, according to CNS.

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