News & Updates

News & Updates

New Training Puts Graduates Back on the Job

The COVID-19 pandemic cost Adrian Gooden his job at a Clovis hotel.

Even though he had a college degree and plenty of experience, Gooden couldn’t find another job because no one was hiring. At the top of his mind were his two young children and fiancé.

“I just had no clue what I was going to do,” he said. Then Gooden heard a radio ad for Fresno-based pre-apprenticeship training program in the building trades.

That sounded perfect for a guy who liked working with his hands and who can get bored sitting behind a desk. He applied, completed the course last fall, and became one of the first graduates of a program offered under the umbrella of the ValleyBuild Partnership, a 14-county effort to train hundreds of workers for good-paying jobs in the construction industry.

“This is what I’ve been missing,” said Gooden, 33, who is now an apprentice in Local 246 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipe and Refrigeration Fitters. “I have my degree (in kinesiology) and have had the opportunity to experience both worlds – going to college and getting my degree and the trades.”

Gooden didn’t know anything about training in the trades while growing up but said he “could have saved a lot of time and money” if he had.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Gooden grew up playing soccer and earned a scholarship to a city college out of high school. From there, he went to Mississippi Sate and graduated in 2012.

But he was in career limbo. Gooden decided to move to California with his best friend, who had just gotten a sales manager job at a Clovis hotel. The friend helped line up a job for Gooden, who moved up the ladder until he became the assistant general manager.

Then COVID-19 hit and Gooden was suddenly out of work. The pre-apprenticeship training opportunity came just at the right time.

Gooden said he learned about a variety of trades and later passed the tests for sheet metal, plumbers and electrician. While waiting to catch on, he received some help and support services through Workforce Connection, funded by the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board.

In January, Gooden became an apprentice with local 426. He just completed his probationary period and has been working on a large expansion project at Table Mountain Casino.

“I’ve been learning a lot in the last few months,” Gooden said. He praised the pre-apprenticeship training program that gave him the skills, opportunity and resources to succeed in a career.

“It’s really a great program and I recommend it, ” he said. “I talk about it all the time.”

The training offered a path into a good-paying career that also allows Gooden to clock out when the day is over rather than be on call.

“There is a work-life balance with being in the trades that sometimes you don’t get” with other jobs, he said.