News & Updates

News & Updates

State Energy Commissioners Make Kern County Stop

Training Director Anthony Ausbie (right) shows commissioners and other officials around the Kern County Electrical Training Center.

Members of the California Energy Commission toured the Kern County Electrical Training Center and spent time with several graduates of the ValleyBuild program during a two-day visit to the Central Valley in July.

Commissioners were in the region partly for a workshop focused on economic equity, energy equity and environmental justice and clean energy workforce development. The program also gave commissioners a first-hand look at related worker training efforts including ValleyBuild, a regional partnership spanning 14 counties that has prepared hundreds of men and women for work in the building trades, along with clean and green energy-related companies and centers in the area.

Anthony Ausbie, training director and lead for Kern County Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, led the tour of the center in Bakersfield and offered program highlights. Afterward, recent ValleyBuild graduates Larry Tripp and Heather Glover were among those who shared stories of success.

Both are working in the trades after completing the program known in part for offering second chances. Glover said she is “learning a lot” as a pipefitter apprentice at an area refinery.

Tripp, now with IBEW, overcame the stigma of a prison background with hard work, honesty and dedication to improving himself. “For once in my life, I’m not breaking the law,” he said.

After the visit to the training center, Commissioner Patty Monahan said she was just learning about the ValleyBuild program that offers a route to good-paying jobs and careers. She was struck by the personal stories shared by Tripp, Glover and several other apprentices and journeymen, and also the relationships formed by workers in the electrical union.

“This visit was really powerful – this connection with real people’s lives and how this can be transformational and give them a pathway to success,” she said. Monahan added that it “comes in loud and clear that people need the right support to even get into these programs,” such as more exposure in high school to these opportunities.

Teresa Hitchcock, assistant administrative officer in Kern County who oversees workforce and economic development, said the event was designed in part to “showcase the ValleyBuild program and how it is impacting a lot of different participants’ lives.”

Apprenticeship can help people achieve steady careers and decent living wages, she said. The program also highlights the prospect of good jobs for those who might not have considered that career path.

Dave Teasdale, executive director of the Economic and Workforce Development Programs for Kern Community College District, said the district has longstanding relationships with the trades. He believes it’s important that Sacramento is familiar with training programs, including ValleyBuild, and clean and green energy efforts in the region.

Teasdale leads a number of initiatives such as the 21st Century Energy Center, which has trained men and women for roles in renewable energy and energy transmission for more than a decade.

“We are doing a lot of good work,” he said. “They want to help us with resources and we want to make it easier for them by showing them that the help they are providing is actually making a meaningful difference in our communities.”

The event at the training center was followed by several tours, including a visit to the 21st Century Energy Center and its training programs in Bakersfield and a visit to Green Power Motor Company, a manufacturing