New Apprenticeship Program Seeks to Fill Employment Gap

 

A new apprenticeship program for surveyor and mapping technicians aims to narrow the gap between available technicians and demand. Technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines.

The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) in partnership with Parkland College, in Champaign, Il. has created the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program. This first- in- the- nation program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor recognized, apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. Once admitted to the program, apprentices begin a 90-day, no fault probationary period in which the apprentice or the employer can terminate participation without repercussion.

Training consists of on the job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician (CST) Level I or Level II exam to complete the program. 

During the program, apprentices are paid a minimum of $15 per hour. Upon successful completion, the apprentice is guaranteed employment, and a minimum salary of $17 per hour. Program graduates also have the option to continue their education and become fully licensed surveyors.  All instruction provided by Parkland College may be applied toward a Bachelor’s Degree.

Employers who participate in the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program are required to pay for the education- related expenses.  Employers are eligible to receive tax credits for their expenses through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) new Apprenticeship Education Expense Tax Credit Program. Employers must apply to DCEO to be eligible to take part in the tax credit program, which is currently capped at $5 million annually.

“It’s really exciting to see this come to fruition. This is something that we have been working on for two years now,” said Executive Director Kim Robinson. “We’ve heard from our members that they are facing serious workforce shortages. This program is designed to fill that void. Other states have heard about what we’re doing and now they’re looking into starting their own apprenticeship programs.”

The inaugural class started in August 2020. “The apprenticeship program is off to a great start. This program will give employees the knowledge they need to get up to speed faster,” said Jeff Rohde, a surveyor at Willett Hofmann & Associates.

Apprentice Travis Keller, also of Willett Hofmann agreed, “The apprenticeship program has been a huge benefit for me. Our instructor does a very nice job helping us work through problems and is always available to provide guidance on anything that’s confusing.”

There is a growing national shortage of both surveyors and technicians that is expected to continue. The surveying profession is confronting a wave of retirements in the coming years, and both new surveyors and technicians will be needed to keep pace with demand.

IPLSA is currently taking applications for the 2021 class, set to start at the end of August. Potential apprentices can upload their resume for free by visiting the apprenticeship page on IPLSA’s website, iplsa.org. Employers can upload job postings for apprentices there as well.

IPLSA is a not-for-profit organization representing the interests of the surveying profession in Illinois. Its mission includes the advancement of the land surveying profession by promoting high standards of practice and conduct, by upholding the Illinois Land Surveyors Act and by supporting and encouraging members through continuing education, professional association, and the use of current technology.

To learn more about the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program, please visit our website at iplsa.org, or email us at apprentice@iplsa.org.