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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm on my third year in the apprenticeship program and am currently working with a small company of 4 employees and the owners. All of the companies I have worked with have been on the smaller side, so maybe that is part of it. But, it seems there isn't much visibility on what work is coming down the pipeline. Often I am notified the day before that there isn't any work the next day or for the rest of the week. Additionally, the working days are sporadic, so it is difficult to get my unemployment waiting week in.

I am curious to see if the short notice is the case industry wide, if it's just a small company thing, if it's an Oregon thing... And does anyone have tips for discussing with the owner?

Also- how often have you changed employers... Is consistency with one employer valued highly?

Thank you for your insight in advance!
 

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Are you in a union apprenticeship program? In our local and a lot of the other trades in the area their main priority in the apprenticeship program is to make sure you are getting at least 40 hours a week. If you are not, they will do their best to find you a shop that can get you forty hours. That being said work may be slow in your area, are there any apprentices not working at all. You may want to stay where your at and ride it out until it picks up. I spent 6-8hours a week for six months cleaning the same area in a shop just so I would get my forty hours in and they could keep me around. Have you asked if there is any work that can be done at the shop just to getting the extra hours you are looking door?

Good luck.
 

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smaller shops probably run that way because their bottom line is so tight, some months they can make payroll and need you, other months they don't have enough work in the pipeline to keep you busy. it sucks for you as you don't have steady work/pay. have you applied to bigger companies or union?
 

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Many smaller and some larger shops work this way, once or twice it is what happens and maybe you can live with that, but if this is the norm then you have to make a decision can I find steadier work elsewhere or do I need to hang it out here.
 

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I dealt with a similar situation a few years ago. I thought it was the norm to work sporadic shifts. Heck, even 8 months ago I told myself I was lucky to even be working. I finally decided to leave where I was. I am now in a considerably better position. I have only had one week of exactly 40hrs. All of the rest have been minimum 50hrs. I went from small shops(4guys) to a mid-sized shop (40) guys - all nonunion. These guys I'm with are very upfront and transparent with us about upcoming work. They put a lot of effort into securing work, forecasting, and I have to say I'm impressed. I don't think it matters union / nonunion, big shop / small shop, if you rely on others to find ways to pay your bills, make sure they can pay theirs...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you

I had a feeling the lack of transparency may be small shop related. I'm in a non-union apprenticeship. Unfortunately, my boss runs the business out of their home, so no shop to clean. That was one way I stayed busy at a prior shop. :)

It doesn't seem to be slow in my area, but the work seems to be better suited for a larger company. It would make sense that due to the small company size, we may not be in the running for much. It is nice to know there is hope for finding a place that will give more visibility.

Thank you for your comments!
 

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Put your feelers out there to other opportunities. As an apprentice you may not have too many contacts in the trade but use any that you do have, in any trade, that might hear of someone looking for help. I have talket to carpenters, painters, pipe fitters etc who say "the electrical contractor on my last job said he is covered up and cant find any decent help". Make some phone calls. Contractors are advertising to generate work. Find their numbers and call them about a job. It may pay off. It never hurts to go for more money at the same time.
 

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One of the last apprentices we picked up said his old boss used to have different rates depending on what they were doing. Regular rate for electrical work and then a reduced rate when they were cleaning the shop, skinning cable ect. I suppose it would be better then nothing I guess, but it still sounds shady to me.
 

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That's kind of the way it is now but it hasn't always been like this. From 2001-2008 everyone was busy. Now, since 2009 work has either been slow, or non-existent. Wonder why that is?
 
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