Apprenticeship Program Empowers Change
How an Apprentice Transformed an Oklahoman's Life
When Logan Blagg takes a drive, he looks closely at the telephone poles and traffic lights passing by. Blagg is a level two welder at Pelco Structural, and he may have had a hand in building the traffic lights and telephone poles in any given city in the U.S. or Canada. He learned his trade through an apprenticeship, and the job that apprenticeship led him to is more than just an income to Blagg. It is a source of pride and a grounding force that changed his life for the better.
Blagg never held a full-time job like the one he now has at Pelco Structural. After struggling with substance abuse and serving nearly a decade behind bars, Blagg learned about Pelco’s registered apprenticeship program from a close friend. In the midst of his recovery, he knew he needed to try something new. The application process was difficult, but he put in the time and work to complete the application. He was one of several applicants, and after working hard to show his willingness and ability, Blagg was accepted to a class of just ten apprentices. Much of his world changed once he got this opportunity.
“I was kind of lost. I never had a real job with responsibility and skill before this,” Blagg said. “I applied a few months before the program launched, and when I found out they only picked 10 people, I knew I really had to go for it to get this spot.”
His hard work had only just begun, but Blagg felt invigorated by the accomplishment of earning a spot in the apprentice program. For the next year, he studied and worked alongside experienced welders. The registered apprenticeship program, developed by the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development and Pelco Structural, allowed Blagg to earn an income while learning a trade. The format helped him focus on learning rather than worrying about his livelihood. This economic stability helped Blagg the most, as he had struggled in the past to juggle traditional degree programs and jobs. Since Blagg was making a living as he trained, it kept him from falling back into unhealthy habits. That security allowed him to fully explore his trade and grow a passion for the work he now does every day. Now, three years sober, Blagg says this job was the boost he needed to make a big change, not just financially but mentally.
“Now I enjoy going to work every day,” says Blagg. “It is very satisfying getting to work with my hands, watching something be built and being part of a team.”
Blagg and his fellow welders’ days vary a lot depending on what they’re building at Pelco Structural. Normally, they begin with huge, long, flat sheets of metal that they bend and weld into a pole. Next, a team of fitters make the other required parts, and together they weld the pole into a final product. Finally, when the pieces are assembled, they ship the traffic equipment to their respective new homes. Pelco’s distribution area spans the U.S. and Canada, so the team’s expert workmanship could be in cities and communities throughout the continent, prompting Blagg to take a closer look each time he passes a telephone or traffic pole. It could be one he worked on. To aspiring apprentices, Blagg says it’s worth the hard work. After years of turmoil in his own life, taking this big step into a long-term career changed everything. “If you’re wanting to make a change or you’re needing something serious in your life, then give it your all,” says Blagg. “At Pelco I feel like I learned from the best, and now I’m making good money with room to grow. I’m up for another raise soon too, all from doing something I like to do. You can’t beat it.”
Today, Blagg has several years of sobriety and great work experience under his belt, and he’s glad for the opportunities that led him here. It was a long journey that brought him to where he is now, but his passion and genuine interest in his work was all worth the effort.