WisBusiness: the Podcast with Joel Zielke, business manager for Steamfitters Local 601

This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Joel Zielke, business manager for Steamfitters Local 601 in Madison. 

He discusses the role of apprenticeships in the trades, highlighting a recent competition for apprentices held at Steamfitters Local 601 Training Center in Madison. It included plumbers, sprinkler fitters, HVAC service technicians and pipefitters from 11 states, and Zielke said it was “a great opportunity” to showcase the Madison facility. 

“It incorporated really a lot of the facets of the different pipe trades and the guys get graded on that — on the theory part and on that practical part — and the winners move onto Ann Arbor to the national contest,” he said. 

Zielke also touts the trades as an alternative path to attending a college or university. 

“Some people would rather work with their hands, or be in a career that’s outdoors or a little more challenging physically,” he said. 

He noted the cost of apprenticeship is typically much lower than a college degree, as journeyman graduates pay back into the system to cover training costs for incoming apprentices. 

“It’s a nice way to get people trained for a minimum cost, and then at some point, that journeyman is there working, they return the favor,” he said. “They pay into the training school and pay for the next group of apprentices coming through.”

Listen to the podcast below, sponsored by UW-Madison: