Registered Apprenticeship – A Family Affair

Kim Justice

Kim Justice’s resilience and willpower have helped transform her Registered Apprenticeship journey into a meaningful ten-year career.  After functioning as a stay-at-home mom for over a decade, Kim was having much difficulty re-entering the workforce.  Her introduction to Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs was somewhat unconventional.  Kim’s eldest son, a recent high school graduate, had been introduced to Local Union 846 through Kim’s cousin and sister.  He asked Kim to accompany him to his RA orientation. It was there that she would meet her current office manager, who invited her to participate in the three-year RA program to become a union ironworker. 

As it happened, Kim’s Registered Apprenticeship was an accelerated program.  A new plant would be opening shortly, and workers were needed.  Typically, this apprenticeship requires two nights of classes each week.  Kim and her son, however, took five night classes each week to finish the program over a three-year timetable.  Kim was initially nervous about pursuing a new career, especially in a field where she was so inexperienced.  She reached out to her father, who told her that she “could do anything she wanted to” and advised her to “do the hard stuff first, and the rest will become easier.”  Kim took this advice to heart, put aside her self-doubt, and discovered that nothing could stop her.

Kim persevered through her Registered Apprenticeship and worked as a supervisor at a bakery all the while.  She never hesitated to ask questions and wholly committed herself to learning her new trade.  Even when Kim discovered that she would have to retake a course to pass the program, she kept her head held high and focused on the work.  One of Kim’s favorite parts of the Registered Apprenticeship experience was mastering the “bookwork” of her trade, which she noted as “the basics and foundation” of the work.  She was always diligent in reading for class and completing her work, and she was also a very active participant in her classes.

This same diligence has transferred to her experience on the job.  Kim also credits NABTU’s Tradeswomen Build Nations conference for offering her additional support and confidence and helping her develop a vocabulary for the job site.  Kim has been employed as an ironworker for over a decade and will soon receive a ten-year pin to commemorate her work.  “I have loved every moment of it,” Kim notes when thinking back on her Registered Apprenticeship and her career.  “I’m an avid learner, so I love learning new things.”  In the future, Kim hopes to expand her knowledge of the field and move towards working in the recruitment or safety side of the industry. 

Publish Date: 01/24/2024

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