Antelope Valley YouthBuild Partners with Ironworkers on Pathway to High-Road Jobs
Youth in the Antelope Valley area of California are finding new opportunities for careers in the solar energy industry thanks to a partnership among Antelope Valley YouthBuild, Ironworkers Local 433 and the Field Ironworkers Apprenticeship and Training Program and their bridge program into union training.
With Local 433 representing Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the surrounding area, that program – the first of its kind in Los Angeles County – spares enrollees a 60+ mile commute to LA. Local affiliates of YouthBuild USA, an ECC board member, provide pathways to jobs, education, entrepreneurship and other opportunities for low-income 16- to 24-year-olds.
Of the 22 individuals who were part of the first group of prospective Ironworker apprentices, seven are YouthBuild graduates, including five who are women, according to YouthBuild USA Vice President for Employer Partnerships Daryl Wright. “Two of our graduates have already been promoted by their employer,” he added.
A Multi-Step Process
For YouthBuild graduates, the Ironworkers Training Program is one more step towards becoming apprentices for the Ironworkers. The summer after completing the Antelope Valley YouthBuild program, the recent graduates completed the YouthBuild construction academy, an industry preparation program for YouthBuild grads interested in construction careers.
After that, they participated in the Ironworkers Industry Bootcamp, a two-week apprenticeship preparation program. Upon successfully completing the Bootcamp, they became indentured as first-period Ironworker apprentices, training that will last four years. After that, they will become journey-workers and full members of the Ironworkers union.
“A new group of 25 trainees just started the Bootcamp,” said YouthBuild Antelope Valley Executive Director Rossie Johnson. “After successfully completing it, they will be dispatched to the union job site as part of their apprenticeship training.”
Johnson said the career-path partnership also includes local community colleges and the City of Palmdale, which plays a major role in facilitating partnerships among YouthBuild, the Building Trades and community-based organizations.
Johnson said the YouthBuild graduates have also completed the Building Trades Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3), an innovative training course that establishes a gateway credential for YouthBuild students, high school students or community college students who want to enter apprenticeship training with any of the 14 trades under the North America’s Building Trades umbrella, including the Ironworkers Union.
Johnson said the Ironworkers union has been involved in the building of solar farms in the Antelope Valley, a prime location for solar power given its location on the western tip of the Mojave Desert, which, he noted, “is among the highest solar production areas in the United States.” He added, “Until a few years ago, few of those jobs were union, but now they all are.”
That evolution allowed YouthBuild to pave the way for local youth to land opportunities as first-period union apprentices, with their benefits and protections, in the growing solar industry. Sunpower, one of the local solar contractors, donated sample solar panels for the union training facility, as well as funding to YouthBuild for on-site training.
“This represents another watershed moment for YouthBuild’s efforts to connect our graduates to high-road job opportunities in Los Angeles County,” said Wright.
Photos courtesy of Kenneth Johansson for "Building Trades News"