News & Updates

News & Updates

State Workforce Director Praises ValleyBuild Program, Focus on Women

Tim Rainey praised ValleyBuild for working to increase the number of women in the trades.

The Fresno-based program that is bringing more women into construction and building trades has an enthusiastic supporter in Tim Rainey, executive director of the California Workforce Development Board.

“The programs that actually prepare people remove barriers and provide supports,” Rainey said recently. “Connecting those things directly is very unique and it’s been pioneered here in the Central Valley with ValleyBuild.”

Rainey was in Clovis for the ValleyBuild NOW (Non-traditional Occupations for Women) graduation on June 30. Ceremonies honored the second all-female training cohort for the apprenticeship readiness training that evolved from a ground-breaking program launched in Fresno more than a decade ago.

In an interview, Rainey applauded ValleyBuild’s successful track record and specifically the 15 graduates for their perseverance in completing the program. ValleyBuild as a whole, he said, is incredibly valuable because it trains people who might never have had access to a building trade career — and one of the best blue collar jobs with good pay, benefits and pensions.

ValleyBuild’s MC3 (MultiCraft Core Curriculum) training program also is working to balance the gender scales. According to state statistics, only about 4% of active apprentices in California are women – a factor that led workforce officials and partners to launch the ValleyBuild NOW series last year.

“ValleyBuild has pioneered not just trying to increase the percentage of women in a cohort so we can increase the percentage of women in the trades, but they went all the way to a full woman cohort,” Rainey said. “It’s a model for obvious reasons, but you’re also building mentorship inside the training.”

Good training is just one step in the process. “Once you get into the trades, you need a community to help you succeed in moving from first period apprentice to second period apprentice,” Rainey said.

“I think the model is really putting together that potential that doesn’t just help us get more women in cohorts or even get more women connected to apprenticeship programs, but really setting up a system where we support women so they can succeed long term.”

The state has been building coalitions and partnerships for several years to provide more access to good blue collar jobs such as those in the building and construction trades. ValleyBuild has an approach that can translate around the state, he said.

“We’re hoping and expecting that the model here for a full women cohort and increasing the percentage of women in the trades really takes shape in similar but unique ways all over the state,” Rainey said.

He hopes the percentage of women in the trades is now getting closer to 20%, and that it can build to 50% and even beyond in California. Apprenticeship readiness training has a ripple effect for generations due to the increased opportunities for families and communities that might have been left behind, he added.

Rainey congratulated the graduates and said job sites will be increasingly friendly to women as their numbers rise in the trades.

The ValleyBuild NOW graduates’ courage is “infectious and inspiring,” he said. “We hope that you take on the responsibility of mentoring your sisters as they enter the industry so that they can support themselves and support others.”