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Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
I'll assume I'm one of "you guys" and respond.

Yes, I have trained several people. And started training several people that didn't make it.
Some of the failures may well have been my own fault as I'm not going to use kid gloves on the basics like:

Show up on time every day.

If you are sick leaving a message on the office machine at 3 in the morning is not enough. We want to speak to you, not hear a message.

Be sober,rested and ready to work.

Understand the basic relationship between supervisor and trainee. (This seems to a problem with the OP's trainee)

Try hard every day. Your not expected to keep up the pace yet because you still have a lot to learn, but you are expected to try your hardest.

Have the basic tools with you every day.

Respect the schedule. If for any reason your not going to be able to work give us plenty of notice so we can schedule around that. Don't come in and tell us that you have a court date tomorrow.

If these basics are not met you won't be working here long.

As far as the "slap" comment I was speaking metaphorically.
I live in California, the lawyer capitol of the world. Even if I wanted to lay a hand on a trainee I wouldn't be stupid enough do do it.

I'm not promoting tough guy posturing or abuse and never would I call somebody stupid, even if they were.

I'm only saying that not clearly understanding that the supervisor is the guy who will say who does what and when is a failure to grasp one of the basics outlined above.

And also to point out that a good example is one of the best training tools you can use. I had a guy once tell me that his former foreman didn't wear a tool belt. He walked around with a screwdriver in his pocket and did as little as possible. Not very inspirational if you ask me. And that was what my guy aspired to achieve!!!

That said, re-read my post. I stand behind every word of it.

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
Good post GA76. I fully agree with you. The sad thing is it will not get any better. With the projected short fall of sparkies getting worse every year, the standands in selecting someone to train will get lower and lower. A warm body is better then nobody.

Socity in general has created this illusion in our school system that in order to succeed, you must go to college. anything less, you are a bum. The world still need ditch diggers. Kids want a cushy job playing computer games. The selection pool for good apprentices is quite small.

As journeymen, it is our responsibilty to train the the green horns. With the "interesting" pool that we have to work with, we have to adjust just the same. If we teach and apprentice how to do something half-ass or do it with a crappy attitude, he or she will go threw life doing it the same way until they wise up of get killed in the process. One day that person will likely be training some else and he or she will teach that person to do it the same way.

As journeymen, we have a huge resposibility of not only doing safe, reliable electrical work, we are the teachers of the next generations of sparkies rather we want to or not. Even if you ae not directly working with a newbie, if they you see you doing something and it is wrong, they may likely assume that it the status quo and run with it. As we workup the ranks in our places of employment, your employer will likly task us to show the greenies the ropes. It is expected from you rather you like it or not because you got the experience the recruits need. It is all part of being an electrician or any job for that matter to include digging ditches.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,869
Likes: 25
That's got to be the best summary of personal limitations in the electrical trade I've read. It's exactly like that too, some guys stay in the trade forever and never figure out certain things.

Fortunately the trade is diverse enough that you may not have to. There are some universal things you need to know but some electricians can work their whole life and never bend much conduit or ever develop a good troubleshooting technique. I agree trouble shooting is actually a natural skill. Some people have a sixth sense about what is important in solving a problem and what has nothing to do with it.
When I was in the computer biz one of the things I did was finding a good fit for each guy who worked on our team. When you have round holes and square holes it is silly to try to pound square pegs in a round hole

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,411
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
It has been said that the purpose of basic training (army style) is to break you down, so they can build you up again. There's some truth in that approach.

Let's assume you get some kid in, who has never had a real job, has never even seen construction, and hasn't a clue.

The first thing you have to address are some misconceptions that he's likely picked up. Such as: Trades are for the goof offs / incompetent / stupid / not quite good enough for college.
Then he has to learn that, in any trade, that results are all that matter. We don't accomplish our jobs by circulating memos; either the light goes on when the switch is flipped - or it doesn't.

Just as you learned to read one letter at a time, you learn the trade one skill, one task at a time. For example, at one of my current jobs I had to make a framework using strut. The mechanics in the shop were most impressed; to them, it was magic. Yet, cutting and joining strut is just one of our routine chores.

That's where you have to start teaching the newbie patience. He has to trust that, some day, all the bits and pieces will come together. He has to understand that 90% of our work has nothing to do with wires, or electricity. Instead, it's all about getting into tight or high places; working in bad weather; bending pipe, cutting wood, making holes, digging ditches, pouring cement, patching drywall, etc. And, yes, cleaning up the mess we make!

Another comparison is learning to play a musical instrument .... you have to work at it for quite some time, put in a lot of effort, before you know enough to really be able to tell if it's for you - or not.

Remember ... kids these days never MAKE anything ... they sit at desks, and look things up. They have yet to experience the joy of slogging through all the mundane tasks that lead to the magic moment when you flip that switch - and it WORKS!

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
New Member
IMO, you all have summed it up very well, including BIB. I would NEVER bitch or complain to my JM. I'm there to do my job, pay attention to what is going on and learn as much as I can from my experiences and from my JM. I might expect to get sent to go sit in the van if I have a problem following instructions (obviously, within reason).

As a green apprentice, I expect my JM to ask me questions "why are we doing this?" "Why aren't we doing it this way." I expect my JM to take pride in his job, so I can see and learn professional methods. I expect my JM to treat me with the same amount of respect and consideration they treat anyone else and vise versa. I don't think my expectations are unreasonable. I might not always get that, but that's what I would hope for.

I also can keep on open mind on the frustration factor when a JM is losing time, teaching or re-teaching an apprentice, particularly if that apprentice isn't completely in the mindset to learn and become an electrician.

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
saras hit it right on the head. Unfortunenly this is not always the case these days.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 276
Ok, like a fool I am going to chime in on this one because I also believe it is
a "lost across the pond" issue here, which I notice seems to affect BOTH sides
in this one. I am guessing, Trumpy, that because of your geographic proximity
to Australia you are familiar with the expression "to give a bloke a fair
shake". (U.S readers- google it. This is trumpy's 1/2 of the post) I had
Aussie neighbors for 8 years who are still good friends, who explained this
subtle, nuanced (to the american mindset at least) expression to me as part of a
larger discussion we were having one night over a few beers, about working
culture in the USA vs Australia. This concept doesn't exist here. The hardass
coarseness you see reflected in attitudes is -true enough- part hyperbole, but also a
genuine insight into the american charachter. Remeber we are the country that gave
the world the "western" enshrining on film a fragment of the american mindset:
if you disagree with a man step out into the street and shoot it out to see whose right, if an
indian is on your land (formerly *his* land) shoot him dead... Unlike NZ,
acquired and settled by purchase, treaty and consensus, the US enforced the
monroe doctrine and our manifest destiny through acts of war and conquest and
(at times) treachery worthy of any Frank or Visigoth. While these examples
point to history long past, they have left their stain on the american
charachter, psyche and work culture. There is a strain of "obedience or death" which
employers expect (in the name of efficiency or "the bottom line") that would be at
home in a bad 70's kung fu movie. On top of
our violent culture and inane national myths worthy of a comic book we have an
educational system that churns out 18 year olds without marketable skills by
stuffing a diploma in their hand not worth the paper it's written on. Add the
cheap labor provided by a ready steady supply of uncontrolled illegal immigrants
streaming into the country (remeber I live in a border city..) labor becomes a
cheap easily replaceable commodity, with an ensuing contempt and lack of respect
for the contribution an individual worker makes to the job/project/society as a
whole by anyone more skilled or higher up the economic tree.

For people on the US side of the pond- unlike the US there are other cultures
who for reasons of low population or just sound and sane national policy, value
train and cultivate skilled workers in their societies as a consiouss part of gov't
economic policy. Perhaps at the expense of upward social mobility.. its unlikely NZ would ever produce a Donald Trump or Bill Gates. Alien to us here in the US, I know (unless you are talking
about soldiers...that is one thing the taxpayer spends billions to recruit and train
its one of the few subsidised career training programs that exist) For someone
coming from such a society, reading the posts in this thread with their
accompanying attitude of contempt and disrespect for a novice would seem shocking and
out of place because in his country even a novice is a person with social status
in the economic system and worthy of a comensurate amount of respect, even if lowly.
But then he is looking in on a culture where trained workers are rare commodity (soon english
literate ones as well!) and the majority are easily replaceable low cost
disposible units of production *BY DESIGN!* That's american short sighted
efficiency for you..

Sorry if this post is all over the place, it's just necessary when trying to
make concrete subtle and almost ineffable differences between cultures to smooth
over misunderstandings across ponds... And for the record, I am not blaming or
knocking the JM, the Apprentice, Trumpy, anyone here... we are all just moving
about in the culture in which we live in the best and most efficent manner we
can according to the prevailing rules.. Just wanted to point out some possible
differences in mentality..

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
a green apprentice !

the boxes will get mounted by him, if not at that exact moment and taking a few minutes to explain something to him isn't going to hurt anyone, in fact it may help him better understand WHY he is doing something.

I would be crazy to think a green kid is going to help get the job done, since their day is jam packed with all of menial tasks, and doing actual work is not in the equation, they might get to whip some fixtures or hump pipe up to the 8th floor or move material but they are essentially there to sweep the floor. the intent is to keep them OUT of harms way for a few weeks until they are a bit more acclimated to the enviroment
and then we try to match them with someone who isn't going to scare the hell out of them in the first few weeks, so the cub can start to ask questions and maybe get a little hands on during their very hectic days but being first years they are merely cheap labor under the constant supervision of a Journeyman.

we leave the indoctrinating to the JATC as to how to act and dress, but ultimately ALL apprentices are there to learn, and some days I to get to share my experience with them

I would offer that you take the opportunity to teach him the best of what you know whenever he asks you something or expresses interest

I would take your apprentices curiosity as a good sign and not try to put him off until you have time..

make time, you might have a good one in your care

Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 81
I have worked with many types of JW when going through my apprenticeship. Some good some not so good but I remember one thing that has stuck with me and I try and do with all apprentices as I get them over lunch one day a Journeyman took the time to explain what made a good apprentice. This may sound strange but at that stage I hadn't really thought of many of the things he said at least not from his point of view. His view included attitude, dress, as well as using ones memeory (if you did similar before try and antisapate the basic material the JW may need and get it there the less time you have to run around getting material and doing the grunt work the more time you can spend watching and learning something new or refining your skills on day to day tasks. Once I heard just how to be the best I could be (at least in his eyes) then I had a goal to work towards. This goal also allowed me to guage just how well I was doing in the trade.

Today I train electrical basics for the company I work for on a fairly regular bases and I have found in the first hour of the training I take some time to let each person know what not only is expected of them but what I consider a good student to be. In truth only about 40% of those I start teaching come away with any real insight and the other 60% run for the hills so to speak but of that 40% I have got back some good reports on their efforts.

Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 141
I have a few thoughts for apprentices and the journeymen that work with them that I wrote a while back. It pertains to another part of my life as a professional pilot and Inspector, but also as an EC on the side I think it applies to the 2 well respected apprentices in our business as well. As an aside note we had 3 apprentices that went on to becoming journeymen and we still employ all 3 of them. One has now become a master electrician as well.

Please read the following with the point of view that it applies just as well to electricians as it does with aviation folks ---

Here is to all you new young guys - please keep up your efforts - don't give up::


At first a lot of new aspiring pilots, like most normal folk, look to take the path to the top that has least resistance. It should just be a matter of getting that Licence and the time.

Simple, isn’t it?

After all, flying is fun.

Just like every other technical profession, including aviation, that point of view does not cut it. (it ain’t fun). At first, it seems like a cruel lesson, but it’s one that must be learned as quickly as possible.

Life is not fair.

Can you make a living at it though?

Especially in aviation.-

It’s best to get over that part as soon as possible. Accept it and get on with things.

The real truth is that it takes a depth of experience to really succeed and feel totally comfortable with aircraft operations. Trying to short circuit the process will lead you to trouble, sometimes years later down the road.

I understand the desire to start fuselage hugging as soon as possible. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s not wrong to do that. Most aspiring new pilots must do it or they wouldn’t be there in the first place, since that really is part of a pilot's psyche.

It gets really frustrating though and here’s why:

After that nice multi-engine Commercial Licence is safely in your pocket, the nice shiny old twin on the ramp starts to look a bit small after a couple of veeeery costly trips down south with the buddies.

Expensive too.

The frustration sets in when there are no jobs out there that want you with that nice newly printed Commercial, multi-engine Licence in the pocket. Nobody can help with a prospect of an employer. Employment people take your information but inform you that there are no jobs listed anywhere in the country.


Except some outfit in the Middle East looking for B767 pilots - totally out of the question). You know that can’t be right though. One guy you know that got his Licence just about a year ago just got a super job as co-pilot on an IFR Navajo operation. But, sure enough, the more you look, nobody is advertising for pilots. That is a major let down. Resumes and telephone calls go no where, so the next step seems to be an Instrument Rating to make things a bit more “saleable”. Another two thousand bucks later you get one.

Finally, a job on the dock in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, shows up on an obscure web site, with a possibility of a flying “opportunity” the next fall. Better than nothing. Sure enough, you get hired to load freight fuel, tourists, beer, food, and fishermen.

Life is good. You spend another thousand bucks and get a “float” rating on a couple of days off.

The Chief Pilot does your last hour and signs your recommend form. You get your Licence a week later. Obviously, you are now a float “Ace” since the Chief Pilot signed you off. You must have an “in” with the Company now.

Your girlfriend shows up for a nice visit too, but has to go after three days, leaving behind your nice (wrinkled) white shirt with the now tarnished epaulettes. Just before she goes, she tells you she has a new job 2500 miles east from her home and now will be in Calgary, but doesn’t know a new address or phone number yet.

You spend the long cooold winter loading freight at the skiplane Base and then get moved to the AIRPORT in March. Finally there is something on wheels that you can relate to as a pilot, and that has some instruments to go “IFR” with and the guys that fly them. You get to talk, mostly briefly, with these old pilots in the Company lounge about the exciting trips to places like Cree Lake, Stony Rapids and Uranium City. Some of them even have a GPS that functions most of the time. They do have lots of experience in the last couple of years that’s worth listening to and look more than 23 years old to you. They do seem to argue with each other though. One night they even invite you to the bar for a few “Brown Pops”. You notice they seem to be able to down a beer at a frightening rate that night and don’t seem to talk to anyone but one on one with each other. One 35 year old pilot talks to you a lot though, and then drops you off at home later.

At this point things go one of two ways.

You have made it with the Chief Pilot or you haven’t.


You stay for a while or you go on to something else, because either Mom, Dad, the Bank or somebody else needs some return on their “investment”.


Pilots naturally get frustrated when they perceive others "using" the system to get ahead and wind up getting that nice B1900 job in the right seat when they’re sitting in the right hand seat of a Navajo for 200 hours and two months down the road. That new 1900 person can now (for a few months, at least) carry around that good old perceived ego on the shoulder and let other, former, co-workers know that "he's got it together”, and “how great things are."

All I can say to that is "wow".

I’ve noticed, however, that just about every new guy starts telling me that it ends pretty quickly when the routine starts to set in.

Pretty soon, the only thing that is routine is the boredom of being a sked pilot in a “simple” aeroplane. That seemingly complex piece of mysterious engineering magnificence is no longer a rewarding experience to fly, but becomes only a means to getting those miles or hours to pay the bills at home with the new wife. Not only that, but something always seems busted on the damn thing anyway. The owners won’t fix it because “it’s too expensive right now”, and “you probably don’t need it anyway today”. MEL’s always seem to make the trip go ahead anyway.

So what’s next?

Away we go again, looking for that bigger and better, perfect fuselage that always works right, with that new and “better” company, and the challenges of a newer, nicer and “better” aeroplane.

What a beautiful fuselage.

Don’t get me wrong though,

Pilot’s are always looking for a challenge or they would have never made it as a pilot in the first place. Maybe that’s one of the reasons so many pilots get new wives so often. I can speak from experience. I was no different than anyone else out there. I’m married again, though. This time permanently.

Those of you new to the business, always tell me that you learned a lot from that senior, grizzled old guy with the bad attitude, in the left seat. A year later that same, used to be, new guy, is the senior, grizzled old guy with the bad attitude in the left seat.

That’s now you.

How much did you, the new guy, really learn that first tour of duty in the right seat? How much of that command decision making REALLY got learned properly?

In my opinion, not much - I know though. I’ve seen it all before.

Particularly with simulators.

New guys ALWAYS tell me it’s better, from the right seat, to observe the senior pilots making the decisions, since for some reason, unknownst to me, they think they’ve now gained that power of the almighty from those observations. A simulator almost always proves the pilot to be human.

Sure guys learn from others by watching, observing, doing and sometimes getting yelled at too. That’s how life, even outside aviation, is, anyway. We learn from experience and interaction with other people.

How much really got absorbed as a potential Commander however?

Aircraft, regardless of size still conform to the laws of physics. Little ones or big ones. What does change with size are the rules.

If anyone hasn't noticed, you can go out by yourself and get killed in a little aeroplane and only the local media makes much mention of it. Kill 9 folks and it's still just air taxi. Mere news on page 1 or 2 of the local major newspaper and a word or two on the suppertime local TV news. Commuter however, with up to 19 on board, will get national attention and maybe a public inquiry headed up by some famous notary(ity) public lawyer. Crash an airliner and the whole world knows right away. Anyone care to be the centre of that kind of attention?

From a physics point of view, what is the difference that size makes? - - None!

So let’s get down to brass tacks here.

What DOES make a difference though, and what does make Operators pay attention to those seemingly stupid little things like your depth of experience and command decision-making is really two things. Media coverage and insurance. Owners and/or Operators don’t want either one of those two going up. - Particularly when someone smashes up one of their planes. And both of those will go up if you crash their aeroplane. Those two facts will either make it or break it for you as a pilot. You have to prove you have the ability to avoid both of those issues or you are out of the picture.

You satisfy both and you have a job.

By the time you sit in the left seat you know that, not by simple mindless knowledge, but it is now instinctive. I hope its part of your life by the time you get in that Command seat.

That’s why operators seem so damn picky when they are looking for pilots to hire.

It ain’t you.

It’s those two things that qualify you or not. Will you keep a low profile with the media and insurance company or not? Is there a chance you will crash the plane? If you are experienced and/or qualified and show you have slim, to no, chance of creating a media or insurance “preventable event” you get the job. If you can’t prove that to the operator - forget it.

That’s where the experience and command time is so very important. Most good operators can sense it somehow. Trying to BS an operator is kind of like tricking a TC Inspector into flying a powered parachute. It just ain’t gonna happen. (Now, before you get me wrong, some poor TC buggers do get ORDERED to go out and do that, but not without protests. They usually request transfers to a different branch right away after that however). (If they don’t, their peers razz them mercilessly).

If, for some reason, you make a mistake with a big aeroplane later in life and take out 100 people with you, and you had not gone through the proper “apprenticeship” period making decisions the right way in the past, you can guarantee yourself a place in(famous) history, unless you have an extremely lucky angel sitting on your shoulder.

Crash a big aeroplane and the uneducated public will know every single detail of your life, right down to whether or not your mother breast-fed you when you were young. ---RIGHT away. --Within minutes or hours, with no holds barred. You, if you live, will get media surrounding you like gold diggers circling a new millionaire.

What are you going to say? My mother died in childbirth? My upbringing was abnormal? My father beat me all the time? My wife is a lesbian? What? How about “I was just a normal kid”? Just what can you say?

Most of us know about the seemingly “stupid” mistakes that other guys have made. They get publicized very widely in our circle of folks.

Every active Canadian pilot gets the Aviation Safety Letter and I’ll bet when some folks read about the “accident of the month”, are sure that the command decision that the poor bugger made and then got written about, would never happen to them. I’ll just bet that most of those that did make the “wrong” decision read the Letter too. Did they make those “mistakes” on purpose? 99.99999% of the time, - no. (There have been those that just had to get even though. That accounts for the .000001% that did do it on purpose. For those, I have no cure or answer. They’re just nuts).

I also know that many of us have heard the A.T.C. tapes and have seen the C.V.R. stuff from the major crashes. Just remember that you might be a voice on one of those some day. Even “little” aeroplanes like BE-100’s might have them. Bigger stuff even records the mistakes you make with the aeroplane while you handle it on the Flight Data Recorder.

This entire dissertation is really meant to say to you young, new freshly scrubbed faces in aviation - - Don’t try to short circuit the command time on the basic machines. You really do need it, even if right now, you see that shiny new fuselage sitting there inviting you to go along and get those “invaluable and “priceless hours”.

Later on you won’t regret getting those instructor or bush times and you will discover the really and truly priceless days that I still think were the best time of my life. I learned about Commanding an aircraft from those days. True Command!

Experience as a Pilot-in-Command on your own, leads to maturity that is NOT obtainable any other way. There is just no simple way of doing it while you become a professional in the aviation business of driving that aluminum tube around the sky. It takes time. Time - in terms of calendar time - not only hours in the air. I wish there was another way you could learn the stuff that’s needed to become a true professional. I wish that I could give all of you the benefit of my experience and knowledge by osmosis somehow. Right now, there isn’t a way to do that. Until evolution changes the way we all learn, it ain’t gonna change.

It’s up to you to get the time. On your own! I think most of you can do that.

Please don’t be lured by the “fast track”. You really must, on your own, get that command time on your own, and go the “old” way to really be able to happily retire (I know, that’s the last thing on your mind right now, but) without becoming a part of world wide (infamous) aviation history.

And finally:

Everything in the company manual - policy, warnings, instructions, the works - can be summed up to read, ‘Captain it’s your baby.’

An old TC pilot.

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