The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Southern California Chapter represents the Anaheim area of California. ABC chapters across the country have a long-standing commitment to NCCER curriculum and craft training programs, and the Southern California Chapter has continued this tradition. Starting with the initial Wheels of Learningcurriculum, ABC Southern California has used NCCER curriculum and assessments for its craft training programs since the inception of NCCER as an organization. The chapter’s official accreditation was given in 1994, and now ABC Southern California employs approximately 73 NCCER certified instructors in its craft training program. Since training began, 4,120 trainees have earned NCCER credentials, and over 80% of all students who begin craft training, complete the program.
Currently ABC Southern California offers training in the following craft areas:
- Electronic Systems Technician
- Sheet Metal
ABC Southern California uses its direct tie to construction industry contractors for job placement purposes, taking on students only when there is a need for that particular craft in the Southern California area. For instance, the waiting list to enroll in an electrical training program is 600 names long. When the need for electricians rises, each person on the waiting list is called to fill an additional class. All apprentices are dispatched to work for member contractors. Upon graduation, most apprentices stay with their initial employers. Each craft training student is sponsored by a member contractor and is employed throughout all of their training. This direct pipeline of trained and credentialed craft professionals keeps costs down for member contractors and the industry as a whole.
To initiate partnership with local schools, ABC Southern California sends information about their apprenticeship training program to all of the high schools, colleges and other training institutions in the five counties that the chapter serves. ABC Southern California staff attends job fairs and gives presentations throughout the community explaining the advantages and career opportunities in construction. At some local events, a representative from ABC Southern California will show a 7 ½-minute video about apprenticeship that features testimonials from apprentices in different trades. In addition, they provide a handout that describes what apprenticeship is and its advantages, what each of the five trades does in the industry, an application and the construction career path.
Some of the various partnerships include, local high schools, colleges, pre-apprenticeship programs, prisons, at-risk youths, probation departments, Job Corps and alternative High Schools. With each partnership, the chapter gains name recognition and new applicants.
Doug Sawyer, the NCCER sponsor representative for ABC Southern California offered this advice for organizations looking to develop new partnerships: “Find the person in the organization that will be your ‘spark plug’ – a person who really believes in apprenticeship and values construction as a viable and valuable career choice.”
ABC Southern California calculates that for a craft training class to break even, at least 15 students must be enrolled in each class with an annual tuition of $1,200. For the entire year, the chapter’s direct training cost is $94,845 which does not include facility rental, cleaning and utilities.
Long-standing members of the ABC Southern California chapter can clearly see the quality of students who are NCCER trained. Students also quickly recognize the benefits of their credentials as they directly relate to the job market. Sawyer even had a student visit 8 years after graduation and tell about his experience working in the United States and abroad, and gave credit to his NCCER training and credential that gave him the ability to find a job, even out of the country.
This encounter underscored what the ABC Southern California staff already knew – they are providing training that has a proven success record and is accepted with high standards throughout the industry and the country. To emulate the success that this ABC chapter enjoys, Sawyer suggested that new Accredited Training Sponsors, “hire the best instructors that they can find.” He also emphasized that administrators must be personally involved in the students’ learning and make themselves available to their students, while also making sure to establish, and consistently enforce, rules and regulations that govern their training programs.
ABC Southern California has stayed successful in training over several decades to their high standards and commitment to the NCCER curriculum. Each staff member and instructor has high regard for the Subject Matter Experts who contribute to NCCER training programs. This solid foundation allows for each trainee to learn their craft and be a productive and safe member of the construction industry.