Thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, the graduates of Fort Carson Welding Class 23 stand at the precipice of exciting new careers in the pipe industry.
The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) that provides transitioning active-duty members of the military with a guaranteed job after they leave the service. The graduates will begin a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location once their military service is complete.
Over the course of 18 weeks, the students learned basic welding skills alongside an experienced journeyman instructor through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training.
“I liked how they used bookwork to try and help a new apprentice understand what they are getting themselves into and what to expect,” Army Spc. Davonte Jackson said. “The instructors showed us good ways of doing things, but always say to use what works best for us. We’re encouraged to make the work our own and find our own ways to succeed.”
The students earned industry-recognized certifications that will propel their progress in the UA once they begin their apprenticeship training.
The students earned certifications in oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.
"I’ve been learning new skills and busting the rust off of old ones,” US Army Spc. Aidan Austin said. “I am truly humbled on a daily basis."
Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply to the UA VIP program during their last six months of enlistment. Training takes place at select military bases across the country and is considered part of each student’s military duty. The UA VIP program offers training in welding, HVACR and fire sprinkler fitting.
A direct path to a UA registered apprenticeship
The graduates will go on to begin UA apprenticeships in Portland, Colorado Springs and Jacksonville, Fla. They will earn good union wages while they learn and receive annual raises as they expand their skill set and advance through the program. They will quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family. They will also start earning a pension and a 401K for their retirement.
Once they complete their apprenticeship, they will become journeymen with numerous opportunities for career advancement. Some will go on to become foremen or superintendents. Others may start their own business. Some will even become instructors and train others in their craft, including in the UA VIP program.