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  • Apprentices

    dont know what you guys have ove rthere but we seem to have a better form of lunatics in charge of our nation. So when all gets hard they start the old skill shortage card and then we have the old BS about apprentices being so poorly paid. So today the Unions have gone to Fair Work Australia who are supposed to look at the wage rates. Thye want to give the apprentices a 70% increase because they are finding it too hard to survive. They claim they dont have fast cars and expensive taste and habits. Quick duck teh pigs are flying by. So again they want us to go to the clients and say this job will cost you more and will take longer because I have to charge 70% more for an apprentice to learn how to do the job. Sorry but like everyone else who talked today apprentices are not going to happen. We will use tradesmen as they cost less and "supposedly" know what they are doing. So the Government will again bang on about skill shortage and not understand that their 70% increase in apprentice wages is the basic cause. I had a case where I had an adult apprentice whom I paid full wage through the whole 4years but he was worth it. Ended up in court because a builder wouldnt pay and then the judge penalised me saying I couldnt charge so much for an apprentice. So then we ask the question, "are we really a smart nation with the calibre of politicians we have here?????"
    Sorry for the rant guys

  • #2
    Re: Apprentices

    Something here must be understood. The spending power of the dollar (US) that apprentices were paid "back then" is far higher than what many are paid today. Is it any suprise many of them are unhappy? $9.00 an hour does not cut it anymore. Especially since McDonalds, of all companies, start their employes at higher wages! Let us not forget, many of these kids are now disillusioned from the promises that college degree were purported to provide, so they, like myself, entered the trades. That wage barely coveres the cost of gasoline and a loaf of bread, even less whatever loans they also have to repay. The same burden cannot be said to have ached previous generations. If the trades as a whole offered a wage the younger guys can afford to at least feed themselves and get to work, we would not even NEED union lobbying nor government intervention. Hell, on this side of the Equator, there are bills being lobbied to raise the US minimum wage to $9.00. In a previous thread, I stated the wage needs to be at $14.50 minimum to match the spending power of the 1969 wage of $1.60 when pressed against the cost of gasoline.

    I'll stop here, though I can go on forever. This topic infuriates me to no end for numerous reasons.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Apprentices

      I'm not in the trades, so now that that is clear, let me comment on just the minimum wage. I don't know what the scale is for apprenticeship in any of the trades, I've always presumed it was something slightly above "minimum wage" though (I can't explain why I would think that though.. except that my father wanted me to "apprentice" in the plumbing local, back in 1963!... I took a job as a busboy instead.)

      I have mixed feeling about the so-called minimum wage. Should it really be a "living wage"? When we talk about this, it is often said that it will cost jobs, as nobody can afford to pay out that kind of money without a substantial increase in their services... and I think just plain arithmetic would confirm that to a large degree. But, that's without knowing what the we used to refer to as the "charge-rate" needs to be. In the sub-contract business, that I used to be part of, the "charge rate" was at least 60% over the price paid to the employee. In other words, if we paid out $3.00 an hour then our charge rate was a minimum of $7.80.. and we always rounded up. Back then, I'd base my quotes on $10 and hour, as the office average was $3.00. BUT, back then our health insurance was practically nothing per employee. We offered no dental and no retirement. The government cost was also very little in the way of unemployment, worker's comp, etc. Basically, as I understood it back then (and probaly wrong), we'd only profit maybe a dollar or so on an hour's labor. The "game" was to quote in a manner where we could beat our estimates; and that is where the profit was.

      Today, I think everyone pays a lot more. Certainly the guy doing the work (even when learning as an apprentice) really has to carry his own weight... he must be a profitable individual, for what he does and certainly those who quote his time against a job needs to keep that in mind. Your business isn't a charity.

      But the cost for him in his daily routine is certainly far more expensive than it used to be and when I started at a minimum wage job back in 1963 the rate was $1.25 per hour..... IT WASN'T A LIVING WAGE, even back then. But, gasoline was 28 cents a gallon, bread was 24 cents a loaf and a movie was 85 cents and add another 20 cents if I wanted to buy popcorn and, that new burger joint in town (like a McDonald's) charged 15 cents for a burger! My first real job as a bus boy only gave me 27 hours a week and I think I took home about that much.... of which I had to pay my parents $17 in order to live at home. Even a very small apartment or room elsewhere would have cost me at least $65 a month for a dump, so I didn't have any option to move out.

      Back then we didn't have any of the restaurants that we have today, like I said, even McDonald's wasn't around yet, nor were pizzerias, etc. You wanted that you went to one of the many fine old Italian restaurants around town.

      But, with a second job I was able to save up enough money over a year and a half to buy myself a new 65' VW. It cost me $1,865. The insurance on it was like $400 plus a year. By then I was in a factory and making $1.50 plus a second minimum wage job which I recall was about $1.35. Still, I couldn't afford to drive the VW for three months, as I couldn't come up with the insurance money for that quarter.

      So while "minimum wage" could buy you a lot more back in 1963 - 65, it still wasn't a "living wage"... and I don't think it was meant to be or really should have been. To me anyway, the idea was that one got a job, learned some stuff, proved their worth through being a productive, enthusiastic sort who learned quickly and could be trusted. You met those expectations and then you might be able to get a recommendation and find something better. In other words, your first jobs are about being trustworthy and able... and thus employable and even "hireable" to someone looking for a basic skill set.

      If you're 25 or 30 years old or whatever, you should certainly be worth a lot more than minimum wage! If your are not, then you have really screwed up somewhere... and that doesn't make any employer want to gamble more money on your questionable employ. Employer's are not charities... and the government shouldn't be forcing the to be that.

      On the other hand though, my first jobs paid me well enough that it was worthwhile; and my bosses weren't making any huge profits off my labors either. Mostly, my manager wasn't making ten times my wage, nor the company owner a 100 times my wage. There was a lot more fairness back then, generally speaking.

      CWS

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Apprentices

        I'll wait for my buddy Frank to respond

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Apprentices

          Let us go ahead and say you are correct CW, that the minimum wage should not be a living wage. Fine. I proved my point, when compared to the price of fuel, the minimum wage today needs to be $14.50 an hour to match spending power at 1969 levels. Again, you are correct, if one is in his 30's, and making minimum wage (I'm going to assume $14.50 here), someone screwed up. So tell me, a person with a degree and a license, making just over what the minimum wage should be, just how skilled do I have to be to afford something as simple as a family, even more so the free time available to start one?! Sure as hell didn't have to be the second coming of Einstien back then, however it seems today we need to be exactly that!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Apprentices

            Something here must be understood. The spending power of the dollar (US) that
            apprentices were paid "back then" is far higher than what many are paid
            today.
            If 'back then' is sometime BEFORE 1976 then maybe you are right. But when I started my apprenticeship I was making $3.52/hr, and took a $2/hour cut (I was driving a truck for $5.60/hr) to get the job. I worked pumping gas 4 nights a week until 10PM (closing time), then headed home and was asleep by 11 to wake up at 5am and meet the carpool at 5:30 for an hour and fifteen minute ride to work where I would sleep if it was not my turn to drive. We met at the place where I pumped gas so when I got there at 5PM I went right to work and the other 3 guys in the carpool (all journeymen) headed home. I did that for 2 years until my pay got back up to where I could get by on the one job alone. I was working 6-8s on the construction job too. I would have worked more nights but our apprentice school was 2 nights a week and one Saturday a month. On the nights I had school I met up with 3 other apprentices in my class and we drove 45 miles to the school where we had class from 7 to 10 pm, then drove home 45 miles to our meeting place then for me another 8 miles to my house. When I started my apprenticeship I drove a beat up '66 Olds 98 LS with 90k+ miles on it which I had bought for $400 in 1976. In 79 I bought a used '75 F-100 pick-up. When I got out of my time I bought a 1980 HD Low Rider new off the showroom floor for $4500 cash. That was my gift to myself for making through all those years of long days working.

            Oh yeah, we had it easy and were rolling in money.

            Second year of my apprenticeship I had so little money I was buying 5 gallons of diesel at a time to dump in the heating oil tank to heat the house I rented and make hot water. I only turned the heat up when I was home and awake, the rest of the time the stat was at 50F which was as low as it would go. During the day if I knew the temp would not be below freezing while I was working I turned the boiler off altogether.

            I think todays apprentices, those that are working anyway, are doing a little better than that.

            All that being said today you're not likely to get someone to take a job like that for 30% of what a Journeyman makes and go to school on your own time.

            Around here today's apprentices go to school one day every other week for 8 hours and are paid for that day and they start at around 45% I believe. I didn't get near 45 % until the beginning of my 3rd year.
            Last edited by Bob D.; 03-04-2013, 10:19 PM.
            ---------------
            Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
            ---------------
            “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
            ---------
            "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
            ---------
            sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Apprentices

              As a Owner, I pay based on the Worker. I have had plenty workers for me that ended up not being worth a .05/hour. I am not in a Union, and do not ever wish to be, I am a small shop, now consisting of me and one other guy. I started him out at $10.00/hour, back in 2008. He has a great work ethic, and could keep up with me. He was an apprentice and has worked hard. I realized quickly (within a few months after hiring him), that he was a valuable asset. The 1 out of 10,000 kind of guy. I bumped him up to $20.00/ hour as an Apprentice. Now, he is a Journeyman, and makes $20/hour plus a little commission. I think the biggest problem with most systems, is that it feels like a dead end job. The road to success is not laid out, a plan or goal is not explained. It is not explained in simple terms. People feel like they are going to be stuck making low wages forever. I have seen guys trying to use some kind of equal pay system. Trying to keep everyone fair. Well its not fair. If you have a great worker, then he should have great pay. If he is no good, then no good pay. Our Texas State Board, doesn't regulate prices or wages, I could charge $400.00 per hour and pay him $200.00/ hour if I wanted. I have applied my system to other areas of my business and it DID NOT WORK. We hired an office person and tried for 2 years to make it work. It was a disaster. I could not consistently get them to show up on time, and even with pay motivation techniques, nothing happened. It was a Disaster. I think every owner, has to sit down, and really think and study what the cost is of doing business, and calculate a fair wage for the skill and worker. Every business is different, and timing as well. It sounds like, you have regulators on price of job, and wages? Is that Correct? Is this a Union or for every business? FYI, Most Trades business over here are not doing it correctly. They like to classify employees as "Sub-contractors", and stick the employee with extra taxes. Under our Tax codes, If you tell a worker; what time to be there or how to do it or provide the calls for him to go on, then he is an employee and must have Proper taxes taken out. The other trick over here in a lot of businesses, is the misuse of over time pay. If a worker works more than 40 hours, then he is to be paid 1 1/2 times his wage for those extra hours per week. Even Salary or Commission work. If you have the worker drive to the job, then the time starts when he leaves his home. If you have a shop, with a set time to be there, then the time starts when he clocks in at the shop. If you have the worker on-call, then the time starts, when the on-call time begins. If you require the worker to make phone calls, he is on the clock and must be paid. Bottom line is, figure out a way to have clear documentation of hours worked, and be prepared to have time sheets to prove it. There are a lot of business getting ready to have major problems with this area. Mark my words. You haven't seen a $@%# storm like this one yet. These laws have been in place since 1938.
              "don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it's been"

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Apprentices

                An apprenticeship is an education and an access point to wages much higher than your average unskilled worker. Short term pain for that long term gain. Consider, at one point in history, this return on investment was so desired that a person had to pay a company to teach them the trade. Now people are paid (agreed it can be low) while learning these life long skills. Quite different in contrast to say college, where you pay to learn while earning nothing (financially speaking).

                I agree wages may not be the best early on for an apprentices but an apprentice does need to acknowledge how much time and materials they cost the company during their education. Sure they make the company money but it also needs to be realized that an apprentice who needs 1 to 2 hours of instructions throughout the day and occasionally scraps something can not expect to earn top dollar right away.

                Also consider the demand for the trade. If your trade is in demand and your employer wants to underpay you than they run the risk of loosing you once you've completed your apprenticeship. Usually once you've gotten your license, it's usually too late for the employer to up the wages to satisfy you by then because they have ticked you off and now you are gone. Even if you don't have your license yet, I've found most companies will continue with an employees apprenticeship with no issues.

                Last but not least, as an apprentice people should always be looking for ways to make the company feel good about investing in you. The way I see it, it is hard for a company to be generous with apprentices wages unless you can demonstrate some mutual benefit for the company. Education and tools etc are areas many companies can easily see the return on investment so don't be afraid to ask for these perks. Not only will you be demonstrating your own interest in your career but if granted, these perks can be a financially satisfying substitute in lieu of a higher wage. Especially early in your career. These perks could add a value of literally hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year above and beyond your take home pay.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Apprentices

                  Back in 1971 I was on the list and on my way to becoming an apprentice as either a plumber or electrician in NYC, unfortunately for me equal opportunity stepped in and those trades were forced to take several hundred minority folks ahead of me. Moving forward, I can see Tailgunner's perspective and his struggle to make ends meet while learning a trade. I can also understand the small business owner who can't afford to pay an unskilled apprentice who is in the learning phase of his career and is not making him money. I think we are arguing the wrong issue when we talk minimum wage or living wage because the real problem is inflation. Inflation hurts the worker and the business owner, it is more of a damaging variable than obamacare in my opinion. Unless inflation is stabilized, how can we hope to have an economy in which a worker, or small business owner can thrive?The rising price of gasoline, heating fuel, food and everything else impacted by inflation, makes the salary needs of the worker, and the profit needs of the small business owner constantly out of reach. Let's not forget how inflation impacts the consumer, and their ability to purchase skilled labor. There will always be the instances of apprentices who will not be right for the trade and waste their time and the owners money in the process. There will always be the business owners who fail to compensate a hard working, fast learning individual. The process can be made more workable for both sides with a stable economy, but you guys know my thoughts on that issue. I just don't see it getting better for any involved. Frank
                  Last edited by Frankiarmz; 03-05-2013, 08:57 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Apprentices

                    Some excellent views expressed here, and here is mine since our company hired employees before.

                    We only had a few employees back in the day, and it simply didn't turn out well for us in the end. In the end 1 of those employees felt he was entitled to make us much as the owner, because he was doing the majority of the work. He failed to realized the money that was invested in his training, his own tools to keep, and numerous trucks he was allowed to use as his own. He also forgot the amount of money it took regarding social security,un-employment, and other taxes associated with him being employed with us. Because he felt that he was entitled, in the end he stole well over $5000.00 worth of material over the years and accumulated a nice stock pile in his home garage. This employee was treated like a son, and paid $13.00hr PLUS all the time & half and double time he wanted. In the mid to late 80's this was excellent money for a Journeyman Plumber. To top it off...he got plenty of performance bonuses as an appreciation for the work he did for us. He was encouraged to do side work (most companies frown on that) as we felt he would be a better mechanic because of it. That turned into him doing side work during the day, when he was suppose to be on the clock for us.

                    In the end, all we did was create an educated Plumber who turned into a thief and "tried" to be our competition.

                    Today, because he didn't play his cards right...he's a prison guard in Philly.

                    Employees?? Never again!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Apprentices

                      Flux, as a business owner and or boss, you are dealing with the best and worst of human nature. There are many businesses that have no choice but to hire and train new workers to meet their demands. You can look to almost any business and see good folks giving their all along with those who feel they are being shortchanged by the boss and must steal to break even. Getting back to the whole apprentice and wages topic, back in 1971 when I started at the Telephone Co. my gross weekly pay was $98.00, gasoline was $.60 a gallon and you could buy a decent car for $3,500.00. The cost of living and the complications such as cell phone and internet bills does make things very different from back in the day. I do think inflation is a major issue that will continue to make life difficult for everyone of us. The days of stay at home Moms is all but gone, college tuition is forcing folks to budget far into their working lives. I can't imagine an apprentice living on his own and surviving in this economy while earning a base pay? I also can't imagine how a small business owner can afford his bills as cost to do business constantly rises and the economy does not improve?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Apprentices

                        Frank,

                        I feel sorry for businesses today for what they have to put up with.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Apprentices

                          Flux,

                          I totally agree with your view point. It is extremely difficult. I worked by myself for a long time after having 5 guys that were less than bottom of the barrel. California ruined me on having employees. The guy I have now, just fell into my lap. I first told him no, but he had 3 kids to feed and needed help. I went in with it being a temporary job for him, but he has been great. I have shown him the business, and been real with him about all of the ins and outs. I don't think he has interest in doing all of it. As it turns out, and as Frank has pointed out, it is extremely difficult to make it. I have been in business in the same location here for 10 years coming up at the end of March. I should be celebrating, but instead, I find myself in full concentration to make it work. Times have been tough, and Credit is nonexistent. Supply houses are faltering and closing. My wife and I have run the numbers, and I can't go back to working by myself. I need too much money to make it worth my while. I need backup to help with the warranty calls, and small jobs. I will say this! It has all been done before. Back in the 80's during the Oil bust, a lot of people failed. Some though, managed to fight and scrape through and are very successful today. Times like today can either beat you down and cause you to quit, or you can learn from this time to be resilient and strong. I teeter between both of these daily. I had a really bad day yesterday, and wanted to quit, but I know that it will get better. A billionaire oil guy told me that during the 80's he had banks try to close him down, over $1,000,000 in credit gone in an afternoon. He was told to give it up, and do something else. He stuck in there and followed his heart. Today he is a Billionaire. All within a decade of each other. Life is Cycles, and this cycle can't go on forever.
                          "don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it's been"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Apprentices

                            PbJ,

                            My father thought he was going to have a fairy tale ending with this 1 employee. All this guy had to do was be honest and do what was asked of him. My father would of eventually encouraged him to go out on his own, and for us to bring him in for a day wage when we needed him or he needed fill in work. Greed fueled this guy the day he got engaged and it was down hill from there, cause his wife to be was whispering in his ear about getting more and more money. The other employees we had were either worthless or family.

                            I guess the moral of my story is, employees have no idea what goes into being in business and the money thats involved. For every disgruntled employee, I suggest they stop what they are doing and go into business for themselves if it's that easy and you feel like you're "owed" something. Then when reality smacks them in the face and debt collectors come calling...maybe then they will finally realize being in business isn't all roses.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Apprentices

                              Flux hit on something that there is far to little of and that's compassion and a better understanding of what the other guy is going through. If more folks could go on ride alongs with police they would have better understanding and respect as they experienced up close what a domestic dispute, or car crash looks, sounds and feels like. The kids who are in trouble with the law and get a chance at "scared straight" up close with inmates in a real prison, understand much more than just a stern talk from a relative. Often in marriages one partner is not fully aware of the finances just like in a business situation, and that ignorance leads to all sorts of problems. My wife never wanted to share with our daughters all the bills and financial responsibilities we have as a family, but several money experts say that is wrong. Seems that you should slowly include your children on some of the financial aspects of real life, not to frighten them but so they have some understanding of what is going on. Perhaps business owners need to have some heart to hearts with their workers and let them in on the rising expenses and declining profits? The business owner and worker, both have their challenges and problems in this economy. I don't know if we can accurately call this part of a cycle because the dynamics appear to be unlike anything in our history? Have we ever owed so much to so many, produced so little of what we consume, supported so many Americans who are not working? I can't imagine how this cycle gets broken?

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