Source: CNS Y-12 | News Blog | November 16, 2020

Y-12 Apprenticeship Program 2020 graduates

Y-12 Apprenticeship Program 2020 graduates present their diplomas. From left: Jacob Scarborough, electrician; Christopher Drinnon, pipefitter; Brandon Muir, pipefitter; and Dustin Wilson, electrician.

After 13 years as a Y-12 laborer, Christopher Drinnon acted on his father’s advice: “You should get in a trade.” Now a recent pipefitter apprentice graduate, Drinnon graduated on October 6 from the Y-12 Apprenticeship Program alongside three skilled journeymen, one pipefitter and two electricians.

Since 2008, Y-12 has celebrated 97 graduates and eight graduation ceremonies in the program. Before graduation, each apprentice is trained to union specifications for journeymen level classification upon completion of the program. In addition to qualifications, apprentices learn from experiential training opportunities and work three-month rotations in different workshops throughout Y-12. Through these experiences, apprentices gain valuable knowledge in their field and on-site.

“The Apprenticeship Program has positioned Y-12 for long term mission support, at a time when skilled craft workers are in high demand,” said Will Farmer of Y-12 Infrastructure. “Our program is a great way to transfer knowledge from highly skilled workers to the new workforce and is our guarantee that we will be able to meet our future production goals,” he continued.

A combined partnership between CNS and the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, the Apprenticeship Program is registered with the Department of Labor as well as the Veterans Administration. Y-12’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee is also involved to guarantee the welfare of the program by meeting each month to address various topics on how to grow and assist the program.

Apprentice supervisor and JATC member Zach Yost said, “Our committee exists to ensure that we’re nurturing unsurpassed talent for our program. Today, it’s safe to say that we’ve found that here with our 2020 class.”

The graduates also were recognized for not only their hard work but also the sacrifices that were made by the apprentices and their families.

“The main lesson was not to give up,” said Brandon Muir, Y-12 pipefitter. “The experience was an adjustment; adding 3.5 hour classes, two nights per week on top of a 10 hour day was challenging.

That’s not counting my commute and having a new baby, but the on-the-job training made it worth it.”

In honoring the graduates, Y-12 Site Manager Gene Sievers emphasized the significance the skilled trades have on the mission and the development of the men and women who follow in their footsteps.

“Being skilled in the art is extremely important,” he said. “Your knowledge and capabilities are foundational for Y-12’s enduring mission, our national security, and the future generation of skilled trades.”

With milestones met, Y-12’s four new journeymen will progress to a new chapter making their impact to on-site operations and continuing the legacy and strength of our workforce.

“This is a great accomplishment for you, CNS, and our union. This is something that can never be taken from you and will provide you a path to a career that you can be proud of,” said ATLC President Mike Thompson. “I know and appreciate the sacrifices you have made to achieve this graduation. But it doesn’t end here. You will continue to learn and become more proficient in your skills. The responsibility you face couldn’t be more important. You are the ones who will take our place and carry on the proud tradition of being some of the most skilled tradesmen in the world.”