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San Diego Leads the Nation with First Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Internship for Young Adults

City of San Diego Economic Development Department Supported Pilot Program with Substantial Investment

July 26, 2019

San Diego Continuing Education graduates earn employment and are in the process of qualifying for union apprenticeship programsThe nation’s largest noncredit institution, San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE), has the only Gateway-model that includes experiential learning with paid work experience. The City of San Diego Economic Development Department invested almost $300,000 to fund an expanded pilot of the school’s San Diego Gateway to College and Career's Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness program.

In March of 2019 the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department funded a robust twelve-week pilot Apprenticeship Readiness Program that provided guided pathways to financially rewarding careers in the construction trades for disenfranchised young adults.

SDCE collaborated with the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, and implemented the Multi Craft Corp Curriculum (MC3) sponsored by the National Association of Building Trades Unions and only accessible in partnership with the San Diego Building and Trades Council. As a result, 85% of enrolled participants completed the program and 80% earned the MC3 Certificate recognized throughout North America. Participants could complete the program with a total of 6 certificates including OSHA 10, CPR/First Aid, and Boom/Scissor Lift Certifications. A majority of participants earned all certifications, and 100% of participants completed mandatory safety training, acquiring credentials required to work on construction jobsites.

The trades focused classroom education was taught Simultaneously with on-the-job training. Participants received steel toed work boots, work attire, and safety gear including a vest, hardhat, gloves, and glasses. Within one month following completion of the program, each student has gained employment and in the process of qualifying for union apprenticeship programs including: electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers, and pipefitters, HVAC technicians, carpenters and others. Upon completion of the program and entering the workforce, graduates are earning significantly above minimum wage at jobs paying between $14 and $21 dollars per hour.

In June 2019 the Trump administration proposed apprenticeships as a solution to train workers for in-demand jobs without the need to attend college and take on the associated debt, according to the Wall Street Journal. President Trump’s goal is to provide more opportunities to secure an apprenticeship and the training needed to fill thousands of high paying jobs that are vacant across the United States.

“I enthusiastically announce our Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness program can report a 95% success rate,” said Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., President of SDCE. “Next year, SDCE will begin expanding career and apprenticeship readiness programs to each of SDCE’s nine career technical education guided pathways.”

Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., Executive Director of San Diego Continuing Education Foundation explained students are accustomed to not seeing their goals through. “One of our strengths here is helping them persist,” she said. “We try to take away the barriers that prevent them in both learning and working. Among them are transportation barriers, food barriers, emotional barriers and daycare barriers. We are supporting people in figuring out what their dreams are and how they are going to achieve them.”

Brandin McNabb struggled to make ends meet working a minimum wage retail job before being selected for the Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness program. “Walmart was not a career but a job. I learned about many different trades during this internship. I am very proud of my hard work and dedication. I have accomplished a lot of my goals,” he said. Eastridge Workforce Solutions employed McNabb when he completed the boom lift certification and scissor lift certification during SDCE’s program. In addition to employment with a top-rated Skilled Construction Employer in San Diego, McNabb will start a sheet metal internship in the fall.

SDG2CC students who want to further their education are guaranteed a San Diego Promise scholarship, which provides two-years of tuition/fees for community college, plus $500 per year for books, in partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the James Irvine Foundation.

SDG2CC’s Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness program relies heavily on donations. Please contact Dr. Coskey at to get more involved and/or to make a contribution to the SDCE Foundation.

Allura Garis