Revolutionizing Apprenticeship Education in California

Paola Laverde
Bilingual Public Information Officer, DIR

This year marks a significant milestone for the State of California as we commemorate the 40th anniversary of ensuring that apprenticeship academic training is adequately funded. As a result of innovative policies and investments made decades ago, California is now a national leader in registered apprenticeships.

On March 1, 1983, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 708 (D-Montoya), creating a line item in the state budget known as Related and Supplemental Instruction (RSI).  This line item brought about a pivotal shift in the way funding was provided to community colleges and school districts for apprenticeship education.  Arthur Webster, Chairman of the California Council on Vocational Education in 1983 and apprenticeship coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 11 in Los Angeles, credits the RSI as a game changer, stating that “the funding gave more money for apprenticeship opportunities for more women and people of color.”

Prior to the RSI, apprenticeship education at community colleges was funded through the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funds provided by the state. Community colleges received that funding and provided the Joint Apprentice and Training Committee (JATC)  with classroom space for apprenticeship training. However, even though it was the JATC who provided the training materials and apprenticeship classes were only available as nighttime courses, community colleges still charged the JATCs a fee. Senate Bill 708 changed the funding structure so that instead of community colleges collecting funds through the ADA, the funding would go directly to individual apprenticeship programs.

Under this new structure, an individual program, such as the IBEW Local 11 Los Angeles and the National Electrical Contractors Association, would provide the training through their JATC. Based on Senate Bill 708 those JATCs providing RSI to their apprentices would now be reimbursed for the cost of providing the training. This formula requires that each 50-minute hour of teaching be reimbursed at a rate established by SB 708. Currently, that rate is $9.98 per hour. The law also stipulates that no charges or fees shall be required of any apprentice for admission or attendance in any course or activity.

Today, 40 years later many millions of dollars have gone into training tens of thousands of apprentices and today it is being used to train apprentices outside construction and other traditional trades. “This money that was coming into the apprenticeship committees gave them the opportunity to create more openings for apprentices,” said Webster. “It opened up apprenticeships to people who never had the opportunity before or knew about apprenticeship and because a number of JATCs required a high school diploma to apply, it made people stay in school.”  

July 2023