The successful program founded by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) has trained thousands of men and women over the years to work in the electrical construction industry.
Kevin Fleming, Dean of Instruction, Career and Technical Education at Norco College, says the local college will now administer the NJATC program previously overseen by Palomar College in San Diego County. The classes, which are free to enrollees, will still be held at the IBEW facility in San Bernardino. Apprentices enrolled in the program receive transferable college units amounting to well over half of the credits needed to obtain an associate of science degree. When they are finished with the five year program, they will not only have their journeyman certificate; they will continue to be enrolled in the Riverside Community College system and able to carry on their education. Fleming told Sean Reynolds of Energy Independence, “Norco College is very excited to host this program on behalf of our residents.”
The training is privately funded by NECA and taught by the electricians of the IBEW.
Norco College issues certification and college credits upon completion of the training. The NJATC has trained thousands of electrical trade workers throughout the nation for decades. Chosen candidates are paid to work full-time and attend classes two nights a week. They receive pay raises upon completing each level. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and provide transcripts showing two years of high school algebra. Ashley Etchison, Employment Placement Coordinator for Norco, says Norco College is known for its technology studies. Along with the electrical training program, they offer studies in digital electronics, manufacturing, numerical programming and automated systems courses: in total, over 70 different certificate programs.
Fleming says, “We’re hoping this brings a lot of people at the journeyman level, and trainees, to come to the college and explore a myriad of things. No matter what they did before or after, we want them to know there’s a home for them at the community college district.” The notion that someone would either go into a trade, or attend college is changing, Fleming says, describing it as a “false choice.” From his point of view the apprenticeship program represents both. “Apprenticeship programs have been around for a long time,” he continued. “Sometimes doing what works is the right choice.”
It appears that the Norco/JATC program is the right choice for hundreds of candidates this school year. Etchison says over 400 men and women have been accepted into the course studies this semester and there is a waiting list.
Bernie Balland, lead organizer for the IBEW’s local 440 in Riverside, says the program is open to those with little to no experience, along with skilled workers who have been in the trade for some time and are looking to acquire advanced expertise as an IBEW journeyman. He says they’ll have a highly trained professional instructor teaching them about electrical theory, transformers, motor controls, circuitry and more. The program also keeps up with new and emerging methods like advanced lighting controls and wind and solar technology. Balland says currently the IBEW is working with large photovoltaic solar projects in Riverside and lighting system retrofits throughout the county. He strongly endorses the program as a way to secure a profitable career. Typically, a graduate will earn $65 thousand and up per year depending on overtime and hours worked. They will have health care for their families and money invested toward retirement.
Fleming says it gives local residents the best of both worlds; because many of the graduate journeymen can continue their education and obtain an associate of science degree. “We’re so much more than just the first two years of a four year degree, and this partnership with the IBEW shows that. We’re part of the workforce training system in California. It’s economic development for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. It’s that combination of working with groups like the IBEW that really connects us as a college of the community.”
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