THE CARPENTERS TRAINING CENTER FOR NORTHERN California is piloting a nine-week boot camp–style pre-apprenticeship training program to give workers the skills to succeed on the jobsite.

The program was started to help reduce a high drop-out rate in the first year of apprenticeship and improve the quality of the workforce, says John Bullock, executive director of the Carpenters Training committee. Contractors were reporting that some apprentices “didn't have a perspective on being at work every day and being on time.”

The new course includes construction math, reading blueprints, proper use of tools, and extensive safety training. Plus, there are daily calisthenics to prepare candidates for the physical strength needed on the job. They also learn life skills such as proper work attire and attitude, finances, and even how to pack a healthy lunch, says Bob Alvarado, chairman of the apprenticeship program.

CLASS ACT: Pre-apprenticeship program class spokesperson Reginald Caldwell of Oakland, Calif., addresses graduates and guests at graduation.
CLASS ACT: Pre-apprenticeship program class spokesperson Reginald Caldwell of Oakland, Calif., addresses graduates and guests at graduation.

Candidates who complete the program, which has strict attendance and drug testing requirements, are promised a job and a basic set of tools.

Mark Scherschel, vice president and general superintendent for San Francisco–based contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie, hired Wilfredy Ayala from the first graduating class.

“He's a good worker,” Scherschel says. “He shows up on time and gets to work. He knows how to read a tape, and he knows something about safety. Hopefully, they'll get the next class done, and we'll get the opportunity to get another [worker].”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.