November 12, 2020
Christina Jimenez
T 916.322.4004


SACRAMENTO, Calif. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office commemorates National Apprenticeship Week this week at a time when apprenticeship programs are critical to workforce and economic recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The California Community Colleges system oversees programs for 95,000 apprenticeships across the state with a goal of 500,000 by 2029.

Community college apprenticeship programs provide pathways to high-wage jobs throughout California. Central to the future of the apprenticeship program is the California Apprenticeship Initiative, which is a cohort of 55 community colleges that have developed over 100 new pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs through a $75 million five-year investment.

“The California Apprenticeship Initiative is the state’s driving force to move Californians into high growth, high wage jobs in new and innovative sectors, and especially important as we rebuild the economy from COVID,” said Sheneui Weber, vice chancellor of workforce and economic development for the state Chancellor’s Office.

While traditional apprenticeship programs are focused in the fields of building trades and construction, the CAI expands programs to ten new and innovative sectors including Agriculture, Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Culinary, Early Care and Education, Food Safety, Health Care, Hospitality, Information and Communications Technology, and Maritime.

Even as unemployment numbers dip to 11%, the pandemic is inordinately impacting people of color, both in health outcomes and economic security. According to a study by the California Budget and Policy Center, at its peak, unemployment reached 20% or more for Asian, black, Latinx and other Californians of color, while hitting 17% for white Californians. Women bore the brunt of unemployment, with one in four out of work at the worst point of the recession, as compared to one in five men.

“Closing the achievement gap for students of color is a primary objective of our system and our colleges are stepping up to ensure our apprentices and trainees are not falling behind or discontinuing their education because of COVID,” Weber added. “Our pre-apprenticeship programs specifically target hard to reach populations such as women, persons of color, foster youth, parolees and veterans. Ensuring these students are trained and ready for employment will be critical as we recover from COVID.”

The California Apprenticeship Initiative represents the future of California’s economy and our college systems are at the forefront of not only ensuring apprentices have the knowledge base necessary for these jobs, but to inspire lifelong learning that may lead to advancement in their careers.

Two Examples of College Apprenticeship Programming and Innovation During COVID:

Inland Empire Local Apprenticeships Uniting a Network of Colleges and High Schools (LAUNCH) Program

Occupations: CNC Operators and Programmers, Production Technicians, Drafting and Engineering Technologists, Industrial Maintenance, Electro-Mechanical Technologists and Conventional Machine Operators

The LAUNCH Apprenticeship Network  works through the Inland Empire / Desert Regional Consortium and apprenticeship program plans have been underway since March to launch three new programs in Automotive, Healthcare and IT. In addition to classes going virtual, administrators of the programs developed a streamlined process to activate Industry Committees through virtual meetings and to register new programs with the Division of Apprenticeship Standards. Apprentice candidates and participating businesses are conducting virtual interviews and they are launching a new program Electro Mechanical apprenticeship program in partnership with Target Corporation this Fall. This particular program, hosted out of Norco College, will take apprentices from $23 per hour to $40 per hour as they proceed through the apprenticeship. 

  • Current apprentice enrollment: 125
  • Expected apprentice completion this year: 30

Transit Apprenticeship for Professional Career Advancement (TAPCA)

Occupations: Coach Operator, Junior Track Worker, Junior Service Mechanic and Junior Overhead Line Worker

The TAPCA program at Mission College in partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 has prepared individuals for 320 jobs. The program underscores the importance of college participation in apprenticeship programs as apprentices in this program receive college credit in addition to a paycheck during their in-class time. Apprentices have noted that their interest in earning a college credential or degree increased, with successfully earned college credit through the program as completing a college program seemed more achievable.

  • Current apprentice enrollment: 99
  • Apprenticeship Success: 92% of students who start the program complete and are working.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.