News & Updates

News & Updates

Kern County Graduates Head into the Construction Work Force

Seventeen men and women were honored as the first-ever Kern County graduates of an apprenticeship readiness program under the ValleyBuild partnership.

BAKERSFIELD – More than half the 17 recent graduates of Kern County’s apprenticeship readiness program are now at work in the construction industry.

Seventeen men and women graduated in February from the six-week MC3 Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, and 12 have been placed with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 428 as of mid-March. All are working as solar panel installers.

Five graduates, including some now with the IBEW, have applied for the painters union.

“I’m extremely impressed with that placement rate,” said David Hudgins, Kern County Building Trades pre-apprenticeship coordinator. “If it wasn’t for the strong partnership that the Kern, Inyo, Mono Building Trades Council has with local trades, that wouldn’t be possible.”

Along with that key partnership, Hudgins pointed to the training program and the one to two days of direct instruction that students had with each of seven local trades.

“The curriculum was very well-set, and the students’ hands-on experience with the local trades really helped them to decide what union they wanted to apply with,” Hudgins said.

The Kern County students are the first local graduates of an innovative program operating under the umbrella of ValleyBuild, a 14-county partnership that trains students for good-paying careers in the construction industry.

The graduating class was celebrated Feb. 18 in an event attended by labor leaders, workforce representatives, elected officials and family members. Leticia Perez, member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, said the successful training partnership helps prepare students for “mortgage-paying jobs” in the community.

“We stand with you and celebrate you today, and all the people who have participated in that, because you’re demonstrating that you are the finest among us and that you’re going to do what it takes to succeed,” she said at the event.

ValleyBuild is a state grant-funded program that provides training to meet the strong need for construction workers around California. The Fresno Area Workforce Investment Corporation is the fiscal agent for ValleyBuild, and the primary model is a training program launched in Fresno more than a decade ago.

Partners in ValleyBuild include the Building Trades Councils in the 14-county area; Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees throughout the region; Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) providers; Employers’ Training Resource (ETR) of Kern County and seven workforce development boards in the region; The Rios Company; and community-based organizations who recruit for the program.

Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board, said at the graduation that success in Kern County contributes to success for everyone due to the realities of grant funding.

 “We have to apply for money regionally and so this great program to make these opportunities available to you is happening up and down the Valley,” he told the Kern County audience.

John Spaulding, executive secretary for the Kern, Inyo, Mono Building Trades Council, noted that success is tied to the trades. He singled out Hudgins for doing “an outstanding job of bringing this program together.”

Hudgins congratulated both the students and trades who participated in the class. For the graduates, he said, “this is only the beginning to a skilled trade and a long-lived career.”

In addition to certificates of completion, graduates received certificates of recognition from Eric Arias, Bakersfield City Council member and representative of Assembly Member Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who said the program “allows for you to climb the ladder.”

Teresa Hitchcock, assistant administrative officer for Kern County and director of the Employers’ Training Resource of Kern County, congratulated the graduates as people who will “be building the future of our community.”