"John Smith" finishes his work day at a construction site in Imperial Valley for a member company of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC). He then drives to his Imperial Valley home, eats dinner, turns on his computer and logs on to ABC's new, innovative Online Apprenticeship Training Program. Once logged in, he can study lessons in his selected trade, take tests and perform any other tasks integral to a classroom setting. When he finishes, he can shut off the computer, relax and get up the next morning ready to apply what he's learned online to his work in the field.
Without this program, Smith, as an indentured apprentice, would have to make the long journey to the ABC training site in Poway two nights a week for two-and-a-half hours of class each night. With ABC's online program, he can study at his own pace, while continuing to work at ABC-member job sites.
In order to perform prevailing wage work, contractors are required to make an effort to train apprentices. For students who work on out-of-town jobsites, or live at such a remote distance that making the drive to the ABC Training Academy on a regular basis presents a real hardship, the online program offers flexibility without compromising training and instruction.
"Our members asked us what we could do to help them provide alternative delivery methods to allow training flexibility for students who live or work at a considerable distance from the ABC Training Academy," said Gary Wood, director of continuing education and operations manager at ABC. "It was extremely difficult for the apprentices to leave a job site at the end of the work day, drive several hours to ABC to attend a two-and-a-half-hour class, make the return trip home, and then be at the job site at 6:30 a.m. the next morning - and do this two out of five nights a week! On a construction site, the workers need to be sharp and alert, and with apprentices getting home at midnight or later, our members felt that the late hours could jeopardize their job performance, as well as their classroom performance. So we developed a solution."
Wood started organizing the online program three years ago, working with a company that specializes in developing online training. Primedia Inc. customizes training programs for workplace learning via computer or laptop. The program is approved by the San Diego Community College District as meeting curriculum requirements for classroom training. Students also earn college credits as they complete the on-line curriculum.
Participation in hands-on labs in addition to their classroom and on-the-job training are part of the requirements. The online students meet this requirement by participating in several eight-hour labs per semester on Saturdays at the Poway ABC facility.
During its trial run last year, four students enrolled in the program, and Wood expects a dozen or more students to participate this year.
"As always, ABC is committed to providing the best opportunities possible for our members and their employees," said Sherry Yarbrough, executive director of the ABC Apprenticeship Training Trust. "This pioneering online program upgrades the quality of their workforce, while training skilled workers for the future of their businesses."
To find out more about the online apprenticeship training offered through ABC, contact Gary Wood at (858) 513-4700.