News & Updates

News & Updates

Perfect Graduation Rate Defines ValleyBuild’s Latest Class

A perfect 22 out of 22 students successfully completed this fall’s ValleyBuild apprenticeship readiness training in the building and construction trades.

Twenty-two students celebrated the completion of their ValleyBuild training program at graduation ceremonies attended by family, friends, the mayor of Fresno and other local, state and federal leaders.

The Nov. 17 ceremony, conducted during National Apprenticeship Week and at the Fresno Fairgrounds, featured many well-deserved accolades and two speakers from the training program that teaches building and construction skills.

Graduate Valeria Gamez-Perez spoke of the life and career-changing opportunity offered by ValleyBuild’s MC3 (Multi-Craft Core Curriculum) Apprenticeship Readiness Training along with challenges the class overcame to post a 100% graduation rate.

“We all had personal things going on, but yet we all did it. We all made it through,” said Gamez-Perez, who is a wife, daughter and mother of seven children. “For that we should all be extremely proud. This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning of a successful career in the trades, not only for us, but for children and families.”

Graduate Benjamin Strickland talked about being laid off from his job and then persevering through the training. He encouraged his classmates to find and follow their dreams, adding “since our future is unwritten, write it the way you want to be.”

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer (second from right) congratulates students Benjamin Strickland, Cecilia Sanchez and Albert Ortega for earning leadership certificates as foremen for  the class community project with Animal Rescue of Fresno.

Pioneered in Fresno, the ValleyBuild training program operates in a 14-county region of the Central Valley. The program unites workforce development boards, building trades councils and other partners to train men and women for good-paying jobs and careers in the building and construction trades.

The graduating class was the 39th cohort in Fresno since 2013. Nine students achieved perfect attendance and eight students passed a rigorous math test that is the “golden ticket” to an interview with the electricians’ union.

Graduate Cecilia Sanchez, who scored a class-leading and whopping 92% on the math test, believes ValleyBuild’s training program gives her an edge. “I don’t think I’m necessarily looking for a job – I’m looking for a career,” she said. “Within construction, that’s what they want to provide you … That’s what I’m looking for.”

In his speech, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer praised the graduates for their hard work and talked about the opportunities presented by the city’s $1.6 billion capital improvement program.

“I want to start out by just saying congratulations on a first step towards a career that when you look back, you will never regret,” Dyer said. “You are graduating at the perfect time in our city because there is a tremendous demand for construction workers right here in Fresno and throughout the Valley, as well as proven training programs like ValleyBuild.”

Chris Hannan, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, represented the affiliated building trade unions and the more than 450,000 members at the graduation.

“I hope that I can give you the confidence in your future,” he told the graduates. “You’re about to enter into one of the apprenticeships for the very best building trade unions anywhere in the world.”

Other speakers included Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno; Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno; Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, a member of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Education; Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board; and Chuck Riojas, financial secretary/treasurer of the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.

The Nov. 17 ValleyBuild graduation attracted an impressive list of local, state and federal officials along with friends, family members and representatives of various building trades unions who met with some graduates after the ceremony.