Program Information

Apprenticeship is a work force training concept designed to prepare an individual for occupations in the skilled trades and crafts. Apprenticeship programs have withstood the test of time as a way to effectively train workers in a skilled trade or craft. These programs are similar to college and can take from one to as many as seven years to complete depending on which trade or craft is chosen.

An Apprentice is an individual who develops marketable job skills in a structured training program who possess the aptitude, physical condition and desire to succeed in a specific trade or craft. Apprentices work with experienced journeypersons on the job and receive an hourly wage and other benefits while learning their chosen trade or craft. On the job training is supplemented by classroom instruction.

Apprenticeship programs are operated under the authority of Joint Apprenticeship Committees (JAC) or Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATC) composed of an equal number of employer and union representatives. Authority is established in an Apprenticeship Labor Standards Agreement adopted by the JAC or JATC. These standards contain rules and regulations for conducting an apprenticeship program and detail the duties and responsibilities of the local JAC or JATC.

There are approximately 650 individuals enrolled as Automotive Apprentices across Northern California working full-time and attending automotive-related classes at a community college. Automotive Apprentices can work in the field of Auto & Truck Mechanics, Auto Body, Auto Paint, Truck and Trailer Repair, Service Advisor, Heavy Equipment Mechanic and Part Counter Person.

For more information, contact:

Automotive Trades Apprenticeship Program
8201 Capwell Drive
Oakland, California 94621

Apprenticeship Applications will be accepted Monday through Thursday (except holidays) from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Phone:     Oakland - (510) 569-8450
Fax: Oakland - (510) 569-8452
Phone: San Jose - (408) 291-2540

Or look them up on the Web:

Looking at new ways to fund apprenticeship training

For the first time in history, President Obama mentioned "apprenticeship" in his State of the Union speech last February. Underscoring his commitment to apprenticeship, the government is offering $100 million to be earmarked for apprenticeship programs. This money is from a fund paid for by employers who are seeking H1B visas for foreign employees. The goal is to have today's foreign workers fund tomorrow's home-grown talent, and the IAM is looking to be part of that trend.

Jon Fowkes, who serves as the District 190's Coordinator of Apprenticeship Programs is working all the angles to get the IAM apprenticeship programs prepared to win some of the new grants.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) has not yet been released, but initial guidelines indicate that the funds will go to three industries: advanced manufacturing, medical and IT. Each funded program must be structured so that it can be replicated across the country.

"We think the automotive model, utilizing community colleges, would work in any industry where the local colleges have already identified jobs they wish to provide training support," explains Fowkes, who was asked by the head of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards to be the point person for California's advanced manufacturing proposal. "We're preparing to submit either regional or statewide proposals and are already developing partnerships of labor, employers, government, and community colleges," Fowkes says, adding that he already has two grant writers lined up and ready to go.

"The most important lesson we've learned from past grants that we've won is that, to be successful, this must be demand-driven. That means, we've got to get the employer buy-in from the start to ensure they're committed to hiring the people we train. And then, we can be the bridge between the colleges and the employers."

Another component of this model is to go to the K12 schools, and by brining in the California Teachers Association, Fowkes is on top of that aspect as well. "We'll focus on educating the educators to promote apprenticeship and to steer high school kids to a career in the trades."

Getting grants is a new focus for the IAM's apprenticeship program, but perhaps a necessary one. Fowkes says that he's done all he can to cut the program's costs, but unless a very large new group of employers joins the training fund, it won't be sustainable in the long run. "We've got to look for new opportunities and be entrepreneurial," he says.

The federal RFP is coming out any day now and the grants will be awarded in the winter.

Building interest in German cars

Another interesting idea that Fowkes is pursuing is that the German government is looking to partner with American unions to get young people interested in the automotive trades. In particular, they want to help train technicians to work on German cars, so that they can sell more of them in the U.S.

The IAM is looking into developing apprenticeship programs in the Los Angeles area and is also trying to get auto shops back into the LA high schools. A big component of this program will be marketing and business development. "In order to be successful, we'll need to get the German manufacturers to encourage their US dealers to take advantage of the union apprenticeship programs," Fowkes says.

Creating apprenticeships at the port

Finally, Fowkes has been working with Local 1484 Business Rep Kevin Kucera to pen a deal with SSA Terminals to start an apprenticeship program for techs. LA Trade Tech is eager to be the education partner, but he's also looking at Cerritos and Long Beach Community Colleges because they're closer. Watch for more details on this soon.

New Website To Showcase
Your Skills On-Line

WorkHands is a new website dedicated to helping skilled trades workers connect across the U.S. For those who know about online networking sites, WorkHands has been dubbed the "Linked-in for blue collar workers."

The concept, according to founder Patrick Cushing, is to "help blue collar workers build their own identity on the web so they can find their next job faster and easier, stay connected with their employers and organizations, as well as share their past projects with folks who can understand and appreciate high-level craftsmanship."

Focused initially on the Bay Area, WorkHands is an online social network for workers to list their skills, show examples of work, get advice on building resumes, obtain necessary licenses and certifications, and stay in touch with colleagues.

"WorkHands is 100% free for workers. Period," says Cushing. "Working in the trades is hard enough so we want to be a place where workers know they can catch a break. WorkHands will sell job posts to companies looking to hire skilled trades professionals. We will also offer private networking for organizations like unions and training programs to improve communication and coordination with their members."

WorkHands' profiles emphasize the pride workers take in their craft by giving them a place to build a portfolio of their work. If you're a great welder, you can show that in pictures of your welds. If you're a great electrician, show how tidy your wiring is. WorkHands enables you to display the licenses and certifications that you've earned. Workers can also list tools and machinery they know how to use, or own, to further indicate their ability to get the job done.

Despite paper resumes not doing trade work justice, workers still need them. WorkHands automatically generates a paper resume for workers with just the click of a button.

The WorkHands team initially built the website to help Laney College's Industrial Maintenance students get ahead in their job search and has been in private beta up until September 10, 2013. Watch for the WorkHands i-phone app to come out soon.

To load your resume on-line, go to


Congrats to Graduating Apprentices

The following Local 653 members are now officially journeymen: Jose Reyes. Fresno Truck Center; Sim Sarth, Fresno Dodge; Eric Davis, Hedrick's Chevrolet; Adan Cervantes, Sun-Maid; and Omero Avalos, Fresno Truck Center. Congratulations one and all for your dedication and hard-work.

Apprenticeship Programs
To Expand Through AMTAC

As reported in the August/September issue of Sparkplug, a statewide apprenticeship association called Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Apprenticeships of California (AMTAC), submitted a proposal for funding from the Obama administration's multi-million dollar federal initiative to grow apprenticeships in new industries. Jon Fowkes, Apprenticeship Coordinator of the The Automotive Trades Apprenticeship Program, based in Oakland, announced AMTAC's proposal was not accepted.

"We were going for 1,000 apprentices over five years, benefiting several regions of the state," said Fowkes about the scope of the apprenticeship program to be funded under the federal grant. "Not getting the federal assistance is a disappointment," Fowkes said, "but it's definitely not an end to our apprenticeship initiative."

With Fowkes at the helm, AMTAC brought together a broad coalition to apply for and use the federal grant monies. The group included the Division of Apprenticeship Standards and other state agencies, the Community College Chancellor's office, the California Workforce Investment Board and several local WIBs, 17 community colleges and more than 20 employers. The federal grant would have contributed to the establishment of a self-sustaining apprenticeship program fully funded by employers and benefiting multiple industries in several regions of the state.

"We brought together a powerful set of partners committed to the success of a statewide apprenticeship program," Fowkes said of the AMTAC federal grant request. "Even though we can't all work together at the accelerated schedule the federal grant would have made possible, we are going to push forward."

Ironically, the day after AMTAC learned the federal grant proposal had not been accepted, California Governor Brown announced an addition of $15 million to the state budget to develop new and innovative workforce training programs called the California Apprenticeship Initiative Grant (CAI).

"We are pursuing grants from the state to fund the apprenticeship programs envisioned in the federal grant proposal," said Fowkes. "The state grants will mean smaller, more regionally focused projects, and may take us longer to reach all of California, but we are committed to maintaining the momentum that began with the federal grant application." AMTAC has now applied for two state grants for programs in the East Bay and Central Valley; those applications were submitted on November 6.

Fowkes is optimistic about additional funding from the state through the CAI grants and potentially California Workforce Investment Board accelerator grants in the coming months and expanding the AMTAC initiative. Speaking about the apprenticeship programs of the IAM and other trade unions, Fowkes says, "Our experience and our process for working with apprentices, community colleges and employers is a model for everyone else. We achieve proven results that benefit everyone, including the broader community. AMTAC is building on and leveraging our model and our success. It will take time, and our partners will change, but we will push forward."