The United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program offers service members an opportunity to learn new skills and expand on old ones. The VIP Program allowed Army Corporal. Kristofer Schaffner to expand his skills and become more versatile in an exciting career.
“I specialized in plumbing when I was in the Army,” Schaffner said. “The Accelerated Welding Program expanded my knowledge in the pipe trades. The VIP Program gave me more opportunities.”
Schaffner went on to explain how he has worked for both plumbing and pipe fitting contractors, allowing him to utilize his unique skill set.
VIP: an educational foundation to a great career
The UA VIP Program consists of 18-weeks of accelerated training in one of three disciplines; welding, HVACR or Fire Sprinkler Fitting to equip transitioning service members with hands-on industry related certifications and educational resources for developing the skills required to be successful in apprenticeship that leads to productive and rewarding careers in the mechanical construction industry.
According to Schaffner, applying to the VIP Program at Fort Carson was one of the best decisions he has ever made. His prior experience combined with what the program offers made it an easy decision.
“Applying to the VIP Program was the second-best decision I have ever made, after joining the Army,” said Schaffner. “I have always liked working with my hands, and with my background in plumbing I decided it was a good idea.”
Guaranteed employment after the military
Upon successful completion of the VIP Program and transitioning out of the military, VIP graduates are placed with a UA signatory contractor. They will fill the needs of the contractor by bringing their skills from the VIP Program to the jobsite, where they will work full time and earn good wages and benefits.
In addition to guaranteed job placement, VIP graduates gain direct entry into the five-year UA registered apprenticeship program. During this period they will expand their skills as they learn from experienced UA members on the job and in the classroom from accredited instructors.
VIP graduates earn a livable wage with scheduled increases in line with progression through the apprenticeship program. Additionally, they earn family health insurance and retirement benefits like a 401k and pension.
Now a fifth-year apprentice with UA Local 761 located in Burbank, California, Schaffner said that his transition into the civilian workforce was very smooth. It was only five days after completing the program that he was working on a jobsite, applying what he learned in the VIP Program.
You can learn more about the VIP Program and inquire about applying by clicking here.