Training for the Future II
A report from the Donald Vial Center on the Green Economy
This report discusses the progress of the Utility Pre-Craft Trainee (UPCT) program since its launch in 2011. The UPCT program, jointly operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18, is an earn-and-learn, pre-apprenticeship training program in which entry-level trainees work full time weatherizing homes and small businesses while learning skills and preparing for civil service exams and career opportunities in the utility. Trainees receive $16 per hour plus health and retirement benefits, considerably better compensation than most entry-level workers earn for weatherization work, and are union members represented by IBEW Local 18. In addition to classroom training, trainees receive on-the-job training to install energy efficiency measures for LADWP’s Home Energy Improvement Program and Small Business Direct Install Program, as well as solar installations on properties owned by LADWP. Trainees also rotate through the water, power, and support services sides of the utility to gain broad exposure and try out different types of work before selecting a career path.
Our previous report, Training for the Future, describes the origins of the UPCT program and highlights features that make it a best practice model for entry-level workforce training in the green economy. As we discuss in that report, the program structure and content, the process by which it developed, and the partnerships it leveraged all contribute to the program’s success. RePower LA—a coalition of community, labor, and environmental groups—advocated for the UPCT program and has supported efforts to have it meet the triple objectives of increasing energy savings, generating family-supporting jobs with career tracks, and increasing access to those jobs for workers from disadvantaged communities. RePower LA continues to play a critical role recruiting trainees and preparing them to be successful in the UPCT program.
LADWP’s rising retirement rates signal both a tremendous need and an opportunity to train a new generation of workers for utility careers. More than 40 percent of LADWP’s workforce is age 50 or older and 38 percent is due to retire in the next few years. In some occupations, such as steam plant supervisors, more than half of the workforce is eligible to retire. The UPCT program addresses the utility’s need for trained workers in conjunction with multiple goals identified by a diverse group of stakeholder partners: the community’s need for good jobs and energy savings; the union’s need to recruit and train young workers; and environmental stakeholders’ goal of replacing fossil fuels with clean energy.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Creating Pathways to Utility Careers for People of Color and Residents of Disadvantaged Communities in Los Angeles
New Study: LADWP & IBEW Local 18 program opens doors into well-paying craft jobs
CONTACT: Jacqueline Sullivan, IRLE Media Relations
firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 604-2289
May 24, 2016
The Utility Pre-Craft Trainee (UPCT) program was developed to provide accessible pathways into utility careers for a diverse population from disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles. A new study by the University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center shows it has done just that.
In Training for the Future II, researchers Megan Emiko Scott and Carol Zabin find that the program has been successful in providing opportunities to underrepresented community members, and keeping them on the path to full-time career employment with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).
“The research shows that the UPCT program turned low-wage dead-end weatherization jobs into jobs starting at $16 per hour with full benefits, and more importantly a path leading into careers in the utility or in the skilled construction trades,” explained Carol Zabin, chair of the Don Vial Center on the Green Economy and co-author of the report.
The study finds that:
- Nearly all (90.3 percent) of the trainees live in zip codes where unemployment is more than 1.5 times the county rate;
- Most trainees (68.3 percent) come from neighborhoods plagued by high poverty;
- Trainees are a diverse group by ethnicity, age, and gender. In particular:
- Roughly half (50.3 percent) of the trainees are Latino, compared to 28.5 percent of U.S. construction workers;
- More than one in five (22.1 percent) of the trainees are African-American, compared to 8 percent of L.A. County residents and 6 percent of U.S. construction workers;
- More than one third (35.4 percent) of trainees support children under the age of 18.
“This has been an incredible opportunity,” said UPCT program graduate La Keisha Davis, a single mother who worked as a waitress before joining the program. “The program made sure that we had the proper training before they sent us out in the field. I started out by weatherizing homes. Now I’ve got a full time job with LADWP as an electric station operator trainee.”
The UPCT program is run jointly by LADWP and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18. UPCTs become members of IBEW Local 18 and receive paid, on-the-job training working in LADWP’s Home Energy Improvement Program upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings. They also rotate through different utility jobs in order to gain exposure to various career paths and receive training preparing them with skills and knowledge to be eligible for such careers.
RePower LA—a coalition of community, labor, and environmental groups—advocated for the UPCT program as a way to increase energy efficiency, generate good career-track jobs, and ensure access to those jobs for workers from disadvantaged communities.