Jackson and other apprentices shared their experiences at a press conference Friday hosted by the Connecticut State Building & Construction Trades Council to bring awareness to unions’ extensive apprenticeship programs. About 100 people attended the event, including contractors, union officials, and state and federal lawmakers. Affiliates of the CT Building Trades provide 17 joint apprenticeship training programs to allow workers a pathway to career and financial stability. Union apprenticeships are paid, and graduates finish their programs without any debt. The programs, which include welding, HVAC, plumbing and pipefitting, are entirely run by their respective unions and at no cost to taxpayers, union officials said. The unions spend $21 million of self-funding to train thousands of workers annually, said business manager Michael Rosario. The council took in 60 new apprentices last week and more women are in training than ever before. About 3,400 employers employ 4,500 apprentices, said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.