The Institute for Career Development (ICD) is a contractually negotiated benefit for eligible members of the United Steelworkers and the companies that employ them.

ICD is a joint labor-management training program in which members participate in self-directed learning opportunities on their own time. Members can choose from a wide range of course offerings to learn new skills or simply brush up on old ones.

Currently, ICD has 65 locations in the steel, tire & rubber, glass, container and utility sectors and .


Career Development training is funded through negotiations between the United Steelworkers and partner companies. Typically, the company will set aside some negotiated amount -- usually $.15 per hour worked -- that will go into the local Career Development fund.

Local programs use that money to fund training and the day-to-day operations.

We have a wide range of classes to meet any interest or skill level.  Instruction ranges from basic skills, such as GED preparation or financial investing, to graduate-level college courses. Steelworkers can also take a variety of classes that teach technical skills, such as plumbing, electrical wiring or small engine repair, and a wide array of computer classes are available as well.

The emphasis is on teaching “portable” skills Steelworkers can use to enhance their existing careers or take with them beyond the steel mills, rubber plants and iron mines should they change jobs. Many Steelworkers use the program to prepare for pre-apprenticeship tests.

The Institute has developed numerous resources and educational programs.

  • Cutting edge Energy Efficiency and Green Jobs Training – Using funding from a Department of Labor Energy Training Partnership grant, ICD has been able to offer hands-on courses like Building Analyst, Envelope Shell and Geothermal training to its participants.
  • National Educational Partners - Partnering with national educational providers allows ICD to negotiate discounts for members at credit-granting institutions across the US. National partners include colleges like American Business and Technology University, Ashworth College, Columbia Southern University, DeVry University and Keller Graduate School, and University of Phoenix. 
  • Online Learning – Keeping up with the technolgy of learning, members may take advantage of non-credit learning opportunities available online in just-in-time programs such as Rosetta Stone,, and others. Resources like these are especially helpful in exploring new careers, pursuing computer certification and taking courses for personal enrichment. Members may also participate in private, customized, 24-hour online tutoring with NetTutor.

Everything is geared toward making learning comfortable and accessible for Steelworkers. Our learning centers are conveniently located, usually on or near work sites or in a union hall.  Classes are offered before and after shift changes to accommodate workers’ schedules.

Each site offers classes under the direction of the LJC.  The LJC decides what courses to offer by documenting workers’ needs and interests.  They do this through surveys or by sending program Learning Advocates to talk to workers on the shop floor.  Each Career Development Program is uniquely tailored for the Steelworkers at that location.  It’s a “bottom-up” philosophy that enables Steelworkers to drive the program.

Another important aspect of the program is learning confidentiality.  Only the Steelworker and the Career Development staff know whether the Steelworker is there to brush up on basic skills or complete a college-level course.  Computer-aided instruction supplements traditional classroom settings, small group sessions and one-on-one tutoring.

You must be an active member of the United Steelworkers from a local union that has ICD written into its contract in order to be eligible. If you are unsure whether you have ICD in your contract, please feel free to .

Each eligible member can receive up to $2,000 per year for Customized Courses and up to $2,500 per year in Tuition Assistance. None of this money comes out of your own pocket. It is a negotiated benefit.

Customized Courses are those classes that are taught locally, normally onsite, to a group of members who are interested in a particular subject. 

Tuition Assistance is money that is available for you to earn college credits.

Each local program is overseen by a Local Joint Committee (LJC), which is made up of local union and company leaders.

The LJC is responsible for all decisions regarding local staffing, finances and course offerings. Often times the LJC will employ a full- or part-time ICD Coordinator to run the day-to-day operations of the program.

The ICD National Office provides technical assistance to each LJC.

If you currently do not have ICD written into your collective bargaining agreement, but would like to pursue it, contact your local union president.

ICD Staff is always available to make presentations to your bargaining committee.