Ron Dion, chair of the Electrical Apprenticeship Committee at Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC), understands the benefits of the organization's Electrical Apprenticeship Program.
Dion, director of human resources and safety at Gould Electric Inc., never had the opportunity to enroll in an apprenticeship program such as the program offered by ABC, and when he works with the association's apprentices, he is impressed.
"I learned everything through the school of hard knocks," said Dion, who began learning his trade from his electrician father. "While I certainly learned a lot on the technical side, when I work with ABC trained apprentices, it is obvious that they have a better grasp of electrical theory than individuals who don't receive the classroom and lab instruction. That training is evident in a number of ways - it improves the apprentice's quality and productivity on the job.
"Their comprehension has prompted me to keep a step ahead of them by reading everything I can about my field and improving my own knowledge."
As chair of the apprenticeship committee, Dion keeps close tabs on the Electrical Apprenticeship Program, a state-registered apprenticeship program approved by the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards that fulfills the requirements for contractors performing prevailing wage work. Apprentices receive four years of on-the-job training coupled with classroom work at ABC's Poway facility, which features 20,000 square feet of laboratory space. The committee oversees the training, ensuring that both contractors and apprentices are fulfilling their obligations and are satisfied.
"Both contractors and apprentices have rights," Dion said. "Apprentices have the right to receive quality training as electricians; contractors have the right to expect quality work and participation in all aspects of the program, from reporting to the job on time to completing the required classroom work."
Graduates earn their journeyman certificates from the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, as well as academic college credits leading to a degree from the San Diego Community College District.
The electrical program is also offered as craft training, for companies who may not compete in the public works arena.
"This program is invaluable to both contractors and young people starting careers in construction," said Sherry Yarbrough, Executive Director of the ABC Apprenticeship Training Program. "As with all our apprenticeship programs, it helps contractors improve and upgrade the quality of their workforce, train skilled workers for the future of their business, and increase productivity and safety on the job."