IR #2003-7
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Dean Fryer
Susan Gard

Governor declares October Apprenticeship Month

More than 66,000 apprentices earn while they learn job skills in over 300 occupations

San Francisco - In recognition of the over 66,000 California apprentices training in more than 300 occupations, Gov. Gray Davis declared October "Apprenticeship Month."

Apprentices are women and men who earn while they learn through planned, supervised work on-the-job combined with related classroom instruction. The California apprenticeship system responds to the demand for skilled workers by training new generations to succeed in industries like childcare, public safety, culinary arts, entertainment and construction.

"Partnering industry, labor, education and government matches the needs of workers with those of employers," says Chuck Cake, Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) acting director and a journeyman electrician. "Those who complete apprenticeship training also come away with a strong understanding of safety, health and wage standards that help them lead long and prosperous work lives."

Because it provides a supportive learning environment and in some cases, almost guarantees a job to those who successfully complete training, California's apprenticeship system has been credited with improving school performance of participants and reducing dropout rates among high-risk populations, according to studies completed during the 1990s.

Apprentices like Jeremiah Johnson, who left the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico where he grew up, journeyed to the Kicking Horse Job Corps center in Montana for education and training, then made his way to the National Ironworkers Training Program for American Indians in Chicago, benefit from the program. Johnson wanted to build a better life for himself. Now he's helping build the new Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Carquinez Strait in Vallejo.

Johnson is one of the apprentices or former apprentices featured on a special Web site portal created by the DIR. The portal also features Berkeley Fire Department Captain Donna McCracken, an apprenticeship training school in Benicia, young workers building their first home in a low-income Sacramento neighborhood and a recently graduated culinary apprentice at San Francisco's historic Sheraton Palace Hotel.

Apprenticeship programs also introduce women into non-traditional work. Almost 8 percent of the state's apprentices are women, a number higher than the national percentage, and one the state Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) is committed to increasing. The DAS this year organized a blue-ribbon committee composed of educators, employers, union officials and apprenticeship coordinators to examine recruitment and retention of women in apprenticeship programs with the intention of recommending changes or support mechanisms to encourage enrollment and retention of women in non-traditional trades.

The DAS is a division of the Department of Industrial Relations. To view the state's apprenticeship Web portal go to, click on the link entitled Apprenticeship: Opportunity is knocking. To find an apprenticeship program by craft and geographic region, go to


Editor note: Interviews with apprentices in some areas can be arranged.

Governor honors state's apprentices by proclamation