Program Exposes Students to Green Technologies, Union Apprenticeship Opportunities through Interactive, Hands-On Classroom Demonstrations
IMPERIAL, CA – Imperial High School students had an opportunity this week to learn how union apprenticeship programs in the skilled construction trades can open the door to career opportunities in energy efficiency, building science, solar, wind, geothermal and other green sectors. Local construction unions did classroom demonstrations and engaged kids in interactive discussion to help generate excitement about basic science principles, green technologies and middle-class career opportunities in the trades.
Conceived with the assistance of the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program, this week’s classroom activity kicks off a partnership between Imperial High School, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569, the Sheet Metal Workers (SMW) Local 206 and local Chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA). The partnership will include periodic classroom interactions between students and local unions to expose high school kids to career pathways into green industries through union apprenticeship.
IBEW Local 569 Business Manager Johnny Simpson notes, “With so many families in Imperial County struggling to get by, we must find innovative ways to successfully prepare students for the 21st century work world. Union apprenticeship is a way for high school graduates to get paid for on-the-job training, earn college credits and have family healthcare and benefits all at the same time.”
Joe Powell, Business Manager for SMW Local 206, adds, “Many of these students will become our next generation of clean energy leaders. For those interested in the construction side of the industry, we hope to start them on the pathway to a middle-class career by working with businesses and developers to create jobs that expand union apprenticeship opportunities here in the community.”
Andrew Berg of the local Chapter of NECA remarks, “Our apprenticeship program develops the most qualified people in the industry and Imperial County’s green energy sector needs a local, skilled workforce. This partnership is a win-win for local students and our NECA businesses working locally in the County. ”
Linda Jennings Executive Director of the local Chapter of SMACNA comments, “We are thrilled to be able to introduce these kids to green career options through the skilled trades that pay well and have family healthcare and benefits.”
Founded in 1891, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents approximately 725,000 members working in a variety of fields including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. IBEW Local 569 represents more than 2,500 members in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
The Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) serves to protect and raise the living standards of over 150,000 skilled men and women employed throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in the construction, manufacturing, service, railroad and shipyard industries. Local 206 represents more than 1,500 members in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Formed in 1901, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is the voice of the $100 billion industry responsible for bringing electrical power, lighting, and communications to buildings and communities across the United States. The San Diego-Imperial County Chapter of NECA was chartered in 1942 and today represents over 100 electrical contractors.
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA) of San Diego is a trade association representing sheet metal and air conditioning contractors located in California’s San Diego and Imperial Counties. The scope of work performed by SMACNA contractors includes architectural sheet metal; heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) of commercial and residential properties; commercial service; custom fabrication; siding and decking; industrial sheet metal; kitchen equipment; manufacturing; and testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB).