Berkeley Job Fair Features Union Apprenticeship Programs

April 2013

The Alameda County Building Trades Council and affiliated unions participated in a Berkeley Job Fair with the City of Berkeley and the Berkeley Unified School District March 29 at the B-tech auditorium at Martin Luther King Jr Way and Derby Street. Several dozen students from Berkeley High School, B-Tech, and the Independent Studies program listened to presentations about union apprenticeship programs and visited booths staffed by apprenticeship coordinators and instructors.

ACBTC Executive Secretary Andreas Cluver welcomed the students and thanked them for attending. “We thank you for being here,” he said. “The demographics of building trades workers is changing as older workers get set to retire; we need new workers and can offer a path to a career for the next generation of building trades workers.” Cluver told the students that in Berkeley, the Building Trades Council had a good partnership with the City and the School District that required the hiring of Berkeley residents on local projects.

After viewing the DVD, “I Built It,” produced by the State Building Trades that highlighted apprentices on the jobs, students heard from Randal Miller of the Operating Engineers Local 3, Rachel Bryan from IBEW Local 595, and Obray Van Buren from Plumbers Local 342. Miller said it was possible to pursue a college degree and a career in the building trades, that he had earned a degree in construction management and also graduated from the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship program. He explained that, “A union is a group of individuals who got together for a common cause” and that belonging to a union means good wages and good benefits like health care and pensions.

Ms. Bryan told the students that as apprentices, “you earn while you learn” with on the job training and hands on experience. She noted that there is no cost for the training, and no student debt. Bryan said she had first attended pre-apprenticeship classes at the Cypress-Mandela training center, where she learned about the culture of construction. She said that in order to succeed in the apprenticeships and in a construction career was the ability to community, understand math, and be willing to learn. She said experienced workers acted as mentors and helped workers who were new to the trades.

Van Buren spoke about his 40 years in the trades and outlined some of the eligibility requirements for acceptance into the apprenticeship programs. Students must be 18 years of age by June and have a driver’s license or be driver’s license eligible.

A second session was held for former B-Tech students, Adult Ed and Community College students and Rising Sun Energy Center clients. Rising Sun serves as a pre-apprenticeship training center and refers its clients to apprenticeships and union construction jobs.

Among union apprenticeship programs represented at the Job Fair were Roofers and Waterproofers, Operating Engineers, Carpenters, Brick, Tile and Marble, Iron Workers, Sprinkler Fitters, Painters and Allied Trades, Laborers, Elevator Constructors, Electrical Workers, Plumbers and Steamfitters, and Cement Masons. Representatives from the City of Berkeley, Rising Son, and Alten Construction were also on hand to speak with students.

View photos from the Job Fair in the Gallery page at