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.