SACRAMENTO --In recognition of the 60,000 Californians currently training as apprentices in more than 800 occupations, Gov. Gray Davis has declared October "Apprenticeship Month."
The California apprenticeship system, formalized in 1939 with passage of the Shelley-Maloney Apprentice Labor Standards Act, partners government, labor, industry and education while training new generations of students to succeed in industries such as health care, construction, culinary arts and entertainment. By combining on-the-job learning with classroom instruction, the apprenticeship system anticipated today's widely recognized effective training methods such as job-shadowing and mentoring.
"It is the goal of this administration to match the needs of workers with those of employers," says Stephen J. Smith, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations. "We want to strengthen the apprenticeship alliance among industry, labor, education and government for recruiting workers and teaching the skills they and their employers need."
California's system of apprenticeship training has been credited with improving the school performance of participants and reducing drop-out rates among high-risk populations, according to studies completed during the 1990s. Apprenticeship programs have provided a supportive learning environment for former welfare recipients who successfully learned an occupation that offers good pay and benefits.
Apprenticeship programs also are credited with introducing women into non-traditional work. Nine percent of California's current apprentices are women, a number higher than the national percentage, though one the state Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) is committed to increasing. In the meantime, apprenticeships allow women to participate in an earn-as-you-learn system as they gain competency in their chosen occupation.
The DAS currently is upgrading and expanding its apprenticeship for child care specialists to help stem the staff shortages in that field.
Under the administration of Gov. Gray Davis, the DAS, which oversees the state's apprenticeship system, received its first budget increase in almost a decade. Last year the governor signed legislation that strengthens DAS authority to raise the standards for apprenticeship training in the state and provides new enforcement tools. He also signed a measure that improves training of electricians.
The Division of Apprenticeship Standards is part of the California Department of Industrial Relations.
For interviews with working apprentices in your area, please contact Dean Fryer with the Department of Industrial Relations, (415) 703-5050.