WACA (Western Apprenticeship Coordinators Association) is an agency that recruits adults for several trade organizations in Northern Nevada.  WACA represents ten different trade organizations: carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, NV Energy utility workers, operating engineers, painting, drywall and floor covering workers, plasterers and cement masons, plumbers and pipefitters, sheet metal workers, and stationary engineers. 

Recruiter Bob Alessandrelli is very active in the Northern Nevada community.  He gives regular presentations to adults and high school students at area schools, employment agencies, and at the area JobConnect centers.  People ages 17-18 and older, with a high school diploma or a GED may apply to learn and earn on the job for a well-paying career in the construction industry.  All industries require physical coordination and working outdoors in the elements.  If someone is not prepared to meet these two requirements, the trades are most likely not for them. 

Alessandrelli is very upfront with all potential applicants regarding the pros and cons of careers in the trades.  All types of construction work ebbs and flows with the economy and with the needs of a particular community.  Obviously, at this time there are many workers who have been laid off and who are currently unable to find work.  All trades are optimistic that the economy will turn and building will resume.  A career in the trades provides a well-paying career, a comprehensive benefit package (medical, dental, and vision as well as a pension plan), job security, and safe working conditions.  Most importantly, the trades offer 2 to 5 years of paid training under a master craftsperson. 

On January 5, 2010 WACA held its annual coordinators meeting, inviting area educational professionals, employment professionals, and other community service agencies to hear about recent developments among the trades.  Each coordinator sits on their trade’s interview panel for new recruits.  It was unanimous among all of them the need for more “hands on” interview training.  They reported that many people come to the interview unprepared and unable to effectively communicate their experiences and skills.  Appearance and communication skills were very important to each of the different coordinators. 

There was also much talk in the meeting of the current perceptions among young people of careers in the trades.  Many professionals agreed that careers in trades should be seen as equal to the college experience rather than second rate occupations.  Ace High School is a local school whose focus is on teaching students science and mathematics in real world, trade focused methods.  There is great opportunity for youth who may not be interested in college. 

Not all individuals interested in the trades are coming out of high school.  In fact, the coordinators agree that many people are coming to them after spending time in the military.  These candidates are performing very well on the job and already are equipped with many skills that are needed in any trade. 

Although construction in Northern Nevada is down many people are finding their path to success in the trades.  For more information regarding WACA or any specific trade union, feel free to contact Bob Alessandrelli at (775)825-6866 or by email at info@buildingtradejobs.org.