A Perfect Fit


UA instructors line up to check out new technologies during Industry Day at the group’s annual skills training program on the WCC campus.


UA’s event at WCC smashes attendance records, generates millions of dollars in local economic impact

Delivering the largest turnout in the UA’s history, the 62nd annual Instructor Training program of The United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinkler Fitters, Welders and HVACR Technicians (UA) was an overwhelming success with more than 1,800 instructors taking classes and 250 Master Instructors in attendance at the program held at Washtenaw Community College from Aug. 8-14.

International in its scope, instructors came from Canada, Australia, Ireland and the United States to the program — considered one of the most successful skills training programs in North America. Held on the WCC campus for the past 26 years, the UA/WCC partnership brings instructors of the skilled trades (welders, plumbers, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and refrigeration technicians) together to train their peers in the most contemporary skill sets for the next generation of skilled trades workers.

Of special note this year, UA General President William Hite and International President of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Kinsey Robinson, signed a landmark affiliation agreement between the two unions.

On hand to commemorate the program were U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell and WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, both of whom spoke during the opening ceremony for Industry Day on Aug. 12.

“We could not be more proud of the partnership we hold with the UA,” said Dr. Bellanca. “This year’s program reflected the Union’s forward-thinking, with emphasis on new technologies, web-based training and look ahead to what skills are needed not just for today’s workforce, but the workforce of the future. Our shared goal is to connect ready-to-work employees with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”

The regional community, from hotels and motels to restaurants and retailers, benefits from the annual program. Conservatively, $5 million is generated in economic impact within Washtenaw County.

“The WCC/UA partnership allows our instructors to share ideas with each other, learn the latest industry skills with WCC’s state-of-the-art technology, look toward future trends, update their certifications and continue a lifelong learning experience,” said Hite. “This program continues to grow and speaks to the adage that the best jobs come from the best training.”

The UA maintains a full-time, year-round presence at WCC, through its Great Lakes Regional Training Center. This facility includes classroom and auditorium space, as well as hands-on labs and workshops in everything from welding to rigging to heating and air conditioning.