EAST BRUNSWICK — Twenty-six apprentices entered the world of work following their graduation May 2 at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools campus in East Brunswick.
“It’s a nice culmination to five years of work,” said Gary Yetsko, 25, of Metuchen, the apprentice class representative, who was sponsored by Local 456 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The apprentices included electricians, plumbers, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technicians. They attended classes two to three nights a week for three to five years, depending on their trade, while working regular 40-hour weeks of on-the-job training.
“Tonight is huge,” said Clement Tennaro Jr., 27, of Sayreville, another Local 456 apprentice, whose late father had been a union worker. “He’d be proud to see his son get a union job. I’m proud to be union.”
Dawn M. Lystad, MCVTS director of adult education and county apprenticeship coordinator, said apprenticeship programs are nationally recognized as a “highly effective method of training in highly skilled trades.” She noted that the graduates had invested 600 to 900 hours in classroom instruction and 8,000 to 10,000 hours in on-the-job training to achieve journeyman status.
MCVTS superintendent of schools Brian J. Loughlin thanked the families of the apprentices and the sponsors for their support as they completed the rigorous program.
John F. Bicsko Jr., president of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Board of Education, recalled his apprentice training as a plumber 50 years ago and cautioned the graduates that emerging technology will quickly make their skills obsolete.
“You must commit yourself to continue learning,” he said.
Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano received the 2012 Albert Hudanish Leadership Award for his support of career and technical education in Middlesex County. Noting that Middlesex County created the first vocational school district in the United States, he said the freeholders remain committed to the apprenticeship program and to continuing career education in cooperation with business and industry.
“We feel very strongly about vocational and technical training,” Rafano said. “I believe we have the best vocational and technical school program in the state of New Jersey.”
Martin Delprado of Somerset received the Edward J. Fofrich Memorial Award as the IBEW apprentice graduate who best practiced the principles of labor unions by helping classmates in school and co-workers on the job.
Yetsko, Delprado and Scott Doublisky of Bound Brook were inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. Electrical trades instructor Ronald Bulvanoski was made an honorary member.
“This is the start of a career,” said electrical trades graduate Brandon Martin of Edison. “I’m stepping forth as a good, knowledgeable electrician.”
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