The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) advocates security contractors embrace its national apprenticeship training program (which is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor) in order to increase the industry’s workforce and keep pace with evolving technologies. NBFAA Apprenticeship Chairman Ron Petrarca discusses concerns shared by industry business owners.
Some dealers are concerned an apprenticeship program equates to unionization. Is that a justifiable concern?
An apprenticeship program does not equate to unionization. Our program is a merit shop program, which means nonunion. It is run by employers that participate in the program, and is supervised by the local state chapters. More than 80 percent of the apprenticeship programs in the nation are merit shop programs. Neither participating employers, nor the program itself, have any connection whatsoever with unions or unionization.
Some dealers fear they’ll make the investment only to see the newly trained employee quit and go to work for another company.
The investment in an apprenticeship program is pennies on the dollar and is based on a weekly “hours worked” wage of the employee. The federally-approved program requires that a journeyman participate in continuing education and each employer pays into the system equally. This program enhances the problem-solving ability of the technician, while reducing the cost of training and job turnover. A byproduct of this type of training is that it also develops a pool of qualified people for employment.
NBFAA had the foresight to see that apprenticeship programs have produced qualified personnel for other trades for years and having our own program is the best way to ensure the perpetuation of this industry, as well.
What most frustrates you about the confusion surrounding NBFAA’s advocacy for these programs?
It is perceived by many that apprenticeship programs only serve the need for bidding and working in public work projects. Unfortunately, there are many municipalities passing legislation that require apprenticeship participation to bid and work on commercial projects, while many have square footage or dollar amount limits that require apprenticeship programs to work. Eventually, this will lead to the elimination of any commercial work without apprenticeship. Security Sales & Integration