Recently Alvord Unified School District offered an electrical worker boot camp to their high school students which was held at the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) facility in San Bernardino. By all accounts, the boot camp was a success. During the event, Dwight Cromie of Energy Independence Magazine talked with a handful of teachers, administrators and IBEW members about the program. ”
The event, attended by dozens of students, was funded by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 440). Mr. Robert Schwandt, a board member for the Alvord Unified School District, talked about the slight change in philosophy for educators, that not all kids need or should go to college and about the importance of introducing their students about other career options such as the electrical or construction trades.
Schwandt stated “Students that don’t typically want to go through a normal college career can learn about apprenticeships through the IBEW, and the second thing is the green energy renewable resources learning about that this could change the rest of their lives”.
He went on to say one of the goals within the Alvord Unified School District is to prepare kids for college and/or career. We know that all kids can’t be going to a college but to have them ready for a career once they get out of high school can be one of our goals.
Jim Rush, the IBEW program coordinator, talked about the importance of this boot camp and the relevancy between the five-year apprenticeship program offered by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) which requires a two-year math prerequisite, including algebra. Rush said this program was designed to offset the disproportionate amount of students failing algebra middle and high school level, the goal is to help motivate middle school kids approaching high school. The NJATC regional facility in San Bernardino is one of more than two hundred across the United States and Canada established by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) in order to train their members. The middle school boot camp, also supported by NECA and the Inland Empire Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC), originated in order to demonstrate to middle school students the practical application of a sometimes-abstract subject.
Rick Purper, the executive director of the IBEW/ NJATC San Bernardino facility, was also happy with the event. He said they were trying to facilitate the students’ understanding of “the world of work” within the confines of electrical contracting. The boot camp experience included instruction on how to prepare for a job interview, and why math and reading are relevant in the workforce. Students attended a safety class where they were introduced to the theory of electricity, and learned about the dangers involved. They also worked hands-on to bend pipes and run cable for an electrical support system. “There were a lot of physical skills involved, but also a lot of academic skills,” Purper said. “We’re excited about it. It’s gone very, very well. The cooperation we’ve had with the Alvord Unified School District has been tremendous. We want to continue this to be an ongoing effort and hopefully expand into other districts,” he said.