Jan. 30, 2018 – Earlier this month, officials at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility invited State Building Trades Northern California Regional Director Bob Jennings to speak at the institution’s Inmate Ward Labor Program graduation ceremony. Bob’s talk about the importance of pre-apprenticeship has become even more relevant with the introduction of Senate Bill 825 by state Sen. Jim Beall that would expand pre-apprenticeship throughout the entire prison system. Here’s what Bob had to say:
“To the 12 young men who are graduating today from this pre-apprenticeship program, there is one thing that you need to know – now, and for the rest of your lives, and that is this:
“You are ready.
“For the past six months, you have put in work — a real kind of work that prepares you for a real kind of life. It is not a mirage that some like to chase in the streets. Instead, you are all now on a path that is paved with a sense of self-worth, one that will direct you to a prosperity achieved through the hard work of learning a trade — and making it the cornerstone of your future, your family, your community.
“As part of the state’s Inmate Ward Labor Program, you were enrolled for the past six months in the premier pre-apprenticeship program in the world, the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum. Believe me, the 120 hours you spent in MC3 can be as valuable to you as a semester at Harvard for future lawyers or business people – and for a lot less money!
“You learned about the importance of safety on the job, how to read blueprints, the opportunities in the different crafts, managing a construction project — and just as important as any of it – the heritage of the American worker. This country would be nothing without them, and too often in our society the working people who build the great projects of our country get lost in the shuffle. I hope that you all came out of the program with a new appreciation for the meaning of work and the value of labor for its own sake.
“While you learned about our industry, you also gained some unbelievable experience working on an important construction project – the refurbishment of the Alta Vista Cottage. This was a project that cost $1.2 million dollars. That makes it a major undertaking by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and for the taxpayers, who trusted you to get the job done. That should provide you with a sense of accomplishment to last for the rest of your lives. Forever, you can look back to what you did here in Ventura and know that you contributed to the rebuilding of something that will make others’ lives better.
“Don’t ever forget that.
“With the certificates that you will receive today, you can now take the tests to apply for membership in any of the 230 joint labor-management apprenticeship programs across every construction trade in California – electrician, carpenter, iron worker, plumber, cement mason, heavy equipment operator, and all the rest.
“These programs are financed and operated by us at the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, in conjunction with the best construction contractors in the state. And they are not easy to get into. In fact, they are more selective than the California State University system. Their acceptance rates rival those of some of the greatest colleges in the world. That’s probably because when you get into an apprenticeship in the construction trades, you start making money immediately – and when you’re finished, you’ll be able to find construction work anywhere in California, anywhere in the country, and you won’t be weighed down with college loan debt for the rest of your lives.
“Thanks to your completion of this MC3 pre-apprenticeship program, there is nobody in the state who will be more prepared than you to gain entry into these excellent programs.
“You will have your ticket to join the American blue-collar middle class.
“We know that the future of the Building Trades in California will only be as strong as the apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs that train and provide skills to the workers who are the foundation of our strength.
“We all know that the best social program is a job. And we at the State Building Construction and Trades Council feel a tremendous sense of gratification and accomplishment in being able help these 12 young men take the steps that will lead you out of this facility forever. We are honored to have helped prepare you to learn the skills that will enable you to join the construction workforce and become full participants in shaping our society.”