School in session for electrician training program

September 1, 2011 7:54:54 PM PDT
There is a sign the job market may be improving, at least slightly. There were 409,000 people who applied for unemployment benefits last week -- the first decline in three weeks. But builders cut back sharply on construction spending, by the largest amount in six months -- 1.3 percent.

To help combat unemployment numbers, there are some Bay Area workers who are now training for a new green career.

Former credit union manager Kevin Affleck is embarking on a five-year apprenticeship as an electrician.

"I got tired of the old desk job and wanted a good career with good benefits and something I enjoy doing every day," said Affleck.

Affleck works at a school construction site during the day and takes classes at night at the Alameda County Electrical Training Center in San Leandro.

"It's very technical. They have to have good math skills, good reading skills, they learn electrical theory. Then of course they learn all of the new electrical systems, whether it's traditional or the new technologies that are out there now," said Byron Benton, a training director.

Being an electrician today extends far beyond pulling wires through walls. It means mastering an array of technical and computer skills, with the goal of achieving the utmost in energy savings.

Some say that being an electrician is now a green job. Just one year out of school, Matt Smith is the foreman of the construction of the new Fairview Elementary School in Hayward, a project that incorporates the latest in smart electrical systems.

"There's a lot of different components that all talk to each other, that control each other, based on certain factors, as in sunlight in a room, the lighting may change," said Smith.

Three of the workers on this job are apprentices. They know if they keep their skills cutting edge, there will be plenty of work for them in the future.

"Being an electrician nowadays, you need to know solar, you need to know how to install wind," said Benton.

"That's what I like about this job. There's all these different facets you can go into," said Affleck.

The Alameda County program will accept new applications in February. Starting apprentice pay is $18 per hour.

Electrician Training Program
They will be taking applications again February.
The Alameda County Joint Apprenticeship and Training
Committee for the Electrical (Inside Wireman) Trade
3033 Alvarado St., San Leandro, CA 94577-5707
(510) 351-2785 email:
Website Address:


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