The United States Department of Labor has awarded nearly $1 million to UC Riverside’s University Extension to help train the Southern California’s labor force.
The four-year grant known as “Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap” will allow the University Extension to work with businesses in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties to potentially form apprenticeship opportunities for their employees. Apprenticeship programs will primarily focus on advancing workers in the informational technology and advanced manufacturing sectors.
UCR and UC Davis were the only grant recipients in California. The grant is designed to support, among others, people of color, women, and veterans re-entering the labor force.
“We are trying to create this infrastructure that has a very clear pathway: support students and employers to be successful in their industries,” said Eric Latham, University Extension’s director of program development. “We are ready to start conversations with employers and see how the program can help.”
Thirty percent of U.S. freight arrives through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and comes through the Inland Empire’s logistics companies, warehouses, and fulfillment centers to be distributed to the rest of the country. Companies already working with the University Extension have expressed concerns about evolving economies centered around technology, and not having a large enough trained workforce to support those changes, Latham said.
That’s why offering options for workers to boost their skills, and eventually their income levels, is a win-win for the businesses and the local economy, he added. The program aims to support at least 830 workers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all courses will be offered online.
“For people who are looking to move up in their careers, this is the opportunity to add something else,” Latham said. “For businesses, allowing their employees to take on apprenticeships only makes them strong, long-term employees.”
University Extension has hired David Mason to serve as the program’s coordinator. For the past 10 years, Mason has worked in career development, including most recently as a project specialist with the Ventura County Community College District and a career development specialist with the Ventura County Office of Education.
The commitment to this program requires someone like Mason to help create a network of employers and students, Latham said.
To learn more about the apprenticeship program visit UC Riverside’s University Extension website or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.