New Apprenticeship Training Program Paves the Way to High-Road Green Jobs

On Friday, August 24th, the California Labor Federation was awarded more than half a million dollars for a pilot project to begin funding apprentice training programs across California. The new project will train workers for new high-road green jobs, and it will also help participating unions maintain and develop more of those quality jobs.

This is the 3rd CLF construction trades project funded by the California Employment Training Panel (ETP).  Unlike the previous ETP programs, the focus of the current program is support for the smaller Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) centers located in communities throughout the state. The workers in this project will be trained to bring electricity, air control and water into residences, schools, businesses, offices and industrial buildings. The electricians will learn to plan, layout, install, repair, monitor and maintain equipment that provides light, heat, communications, water and power. The tile workers, bricklayers and plasterers will learn to build and retrofit buildings with safe and energy-efficient products. By creating pathways into journey-level jobs, the JATCs help their community members gain the skills needed to enter and successfully complete a trade’s apprenticeship.

During the current recession and its slow recovery, the California construction industry has seen about a 20% reduction of its workforce. As the green economy evolves, California is at a fork in the road in its support of the construction industry and its workers. The life of a construction worker has two pathways. One road is temporary employment, creating subsistence annual wages with no healthcare for physically challenging and dangerous work. The other road, created by the joint labor-management apprentice programs, is a lifetime career with middle class wages, healthcare, paid vacation, sick time and retirement security. JATC-trained construction workers go through paid trainings in their communities and establish working connections within their communities. They graduate from their 3 to 5 year training programs on a Saturday, and then on Monday they report to their new, high-road jobs. These highly trained workers support their local communities by becoming contributing members who build secure economic futures for themselves and their families.

The California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council (SBCTC) are working with over 30 JATCs to seek funding through this ETP pilot project.  The first of these JATCs to go to panel for funding is the Orange County Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, which was awarded $337,552 to train 142 apprentices and 50 journey-level workers. 

We are also partnering with the State Building Trades to take a similar project to the Employment Training Panel in September. Several JATCs will go to the upcoming September meeting for funding of various trades, even more in October, and yet another group of JATCs will likely go to the November panel meeting. The total funding available for all of these projects for this fiscal year is approximately 7 million dollars. ETP’s support has played, and will continue to play, a large role in helping California’s economy revive and re-invent itself as an energy-efficient state that supports middle class jobs for all Californians.

After the September meeting, we will report on details of the SBCTC project and the projects of several JATCs seeking this pilot funding with the help of the CLF and SBCTC. For additional information please contact California Labor Federation's Jan Borunda at 213.219.2388 or by email.