RELEASE: Training for the Future II


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, (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 enery efficiency, generate good career-track jobs, and ensure access to those jobs for workers from disadvantaged communities.