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KC Ironworkers Contest Taking Program to New Heights

>>AMY SUSAN: Registered apprenticeship programs provide opportunities for individuals to learn a trade. To become the next pipe fitter, chefs, cosmetologists, health care providers, educational assistants, information technology specialists or ironworkers of the future. And it's a rare occasion when we get to see what these apprentices can really do. We follow one individual at the Annual Ironworkers Contest as he puts the skills that changed his life to the test.

>>GERALD BRICE: I came here, you know, make a long story short I started off roofing. I been here four years and I came here from Houston looking for work.

>>NARRATOR: A month before he headed to Kansas City to join the ironworkers apprenticeship program and start a new job with a local contractor, Gerald Brice was living on the streets.

>>GERALD: But ever since I've started working union and have my pay checks come in and consistently work. I remember having to look back, as been a pillar in my life.

>>NARRATOR: As it has for others. The desires to learn a trade while earning an income. Others like Matthew McIntire, one of 14 contestants from five states who came to Kansas City to compete in the Annual Ironworkers Contest.

>>MATTHEW McINTIRE: You're reading blue prints and you're trying to help people that don't really know what's going on. Leadership. Definitely helping.

>>NARRATOR: And instructor Brian Garrett says sharing tips and strategies is what it takes to produce the best workforce to fit the needs of the employers.

>>BRIAN GARRETT: In order to get good jobs, you need some sort of training.

>>NARRATOR: And this competition heats up that training by putting apprentices up against one another. The contest consisted of a written exam and a set of skills tests including lay out instruments, burning, welding, rod-tying and the test that really accelerates the competition, the column climb; a 35-foot vertical I-beam contestants must climb without any equipment and ring a bell at the apex. For apprentices like Bryce and McIntire, being apart of the program isn't always just about moving up in the world.

>>GERALD: Not to make it sound like it's all about the money 'cause it's not. To try to find something that you do that you love. I've learned to love this.

>>AMY: To commemorate the 75th anniversary of registered apprenticeship programs, we will continue to showcase other programs throughout this summer. Stay tuned for more by visiting labor.mo.gov.