ABC is making progress on problems that have affected pipefitter and refrigeration technician apprentices stemming from a confusing registration and licensing process that involves two state agencies.  The developments came at a January 19 meeting of of the MA Bureau of Pipefitters, Refrigeration Technicians and Sprinklerfitters. 


“This is welcome news for a large number of apprentices and employers who have been frustrated over a confusing and unclear process that has been holding up apprentices’ ability to get their licenses and/or move ahead with their apprenticeships,” said ABC President Greg Beeman.   


At the 1/19 meeting, officials from the Division of Occupational Licensure (DOL) and the Division of Apprentice Standards (DAS) presented a draft memorandum to the Bureau to address immediate issues affecting apprentices who are ready to sit for the exam as well as to improve the overall process involving the two-step registration and licensing with the two agencies moving forward.   


Under state law, pipefitter apprentices need to first be registered with the DAS and then also licensed through DOL.   The two processes are separate, and there has been a lack of clarity on the dual requirements.  A number of apprentices registered with DAS, received their state-issued ID card and did not realize they were also required to get an apprentice license with DOL. In many cases, the apprentices only discovered the problem when they applied to take their journeyman’s exam, but were told they could not, as hours worked and schooling would not count unless both the DOL license and DAS registration were in place.   


The Bureau had voted at a recent meeting to provide an accommodation for apprentices who have the necessary hours and were registered with DAS, but did not have their apprentice license with DOL for some or all of their apprenticeship.  The memo from agency staff that was presented to the Bureau last week outlines the process.  Of note, apprentices can document their work and schooling hours with sign offs from their employer and school, and will not be required to have a “Certificate of Completion” from DAS.  


The Bureau voted to approve the memo, and to establish a one-year “grace period” to allow these apprentices to sit for the exam.  The memorandum now goes to the Commissioner for sign-off, and the grace period will begin on the date that occurs.  


ABC will make the memo available to members as soon as it is released, and we also expect additional related information from the Division of Apprenticeship Standards.  ABC will also hold an informational webinar for members.