News & Updates

News & Updates

Stockton Instructor Leans on Decades of Know-How

With years of construction experience under his tool belt, Eric Cosgrove is someone with plenty of on-the-job knowledge.

Eric Cosgrove draws on his experience to train students for work in the trades.

He’s skilled as a general contractor and in a long list of building trades and tasks such as painting, plumbing, electrical and underground construction. Now Cosgrove shares that expertise as the apprenticeship readiness instructor at California Human Development in Stockton.

The program is part of the ValleyBuild partnership spanning 14 counties, with Cosgrove helping to train men and women in San Joaquin County and beyond for good-paying jobs in the construction trades. Partners in the training cohorts are California Human Development, the San Joaquin Building Trades Council, San Joaquin Worknet, Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board, and ValleyBuild.

Cosgrove said the job is a good fit for his skill set and background.

“When I was in the field working, I was making Product X for profit and this is a little different,” Cosgrove said. “Here, my goal is to get the student educated and help them cross that bridge into union employment.”

The eight-week Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) program taught by Cosgrove introduces students to a variety of construction trades and hands-on training, and also provides several certifications such as forklift and OSHA 10.

Sixteen students graduated in August from his most recent class and another cohort began in late September.

Cosgrove began working in union trades in his 20s. His experience ranges from painting off-shore oil rigs to preparing land for curbs and gutters to working as a general contractor. About four years ago, the physical grind prompted him to connect with the teaching position.

Today’s younger generation doesn’t have much exposure to the trades, Cosgrove said, and often doesn’t understand what union employment means. In one recent class, five students couldn’t even read a tape measure.

But now, after completing the course, those graduates have a skill set and potential direction for their lives. And that’s the pay-off for Cosgrove.

Recently, a woman with seven children stopped him at Walmart and asked if they knew each other. Cosgrove didn’t think so, but she remembered him as the instructor in her husband’s training class.

She said her husband now is in a union that provides good pay and benefits and that allowed their children to go to the dentist and get glasses. “That right there means a lot,” Cosgrove said.

There is room to expand the training program, he believes, and also to reach a younger generation searching for the right steady and good-paying career.

As always, Cosgrove was looking forward to his next class. The current class is special partly because his granddaughter is enrolled. He doesn’t know which trade she’ll lean toward but thinks she can succeed: “She is pretty smart.”