Grossmont College has been awarded a $410,000 state grant for an innovative outreach program preparing hundreds of high school students and adult learners from diverse East County communities for much-needed apprenticeships.
The project aims to boost awareness about apprenticeships and improve students’ math and English literacy that are needed to succeed. The centerpiece of the program is a Pre-Apprentice Mobile (PAM) Lab that will serve as an outreach and education vehicle at career fairs, high schools, and adult schools in an effort to spread the word about apprenticeship opportunities and begin preparing interested students to become apprentices.
“Grossmont College has long played a key role in the economic development of our region. This grant will advance our ability to connect up to 500 traditional learners and digital natives to pre-apprenticeship training in underserved communities,” said Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh. “The award will allow us to broaden our educational and skills offerings to a larger audience and continue to offer high-quality career-technical education leading to sustainable, well-paid careers.”
The PAM Lab will be equipped with computers, internet access, and various educational tools, all aimed at boosting student success. In addition to the services provided by the PAM Lab, students will be invited to career service resume writing, interviewing, and other job success activities on the Grossmont College campus.
The PAM Lab, which will be staffed by a coordinator working with Grossmont College, was designed in response to employer needs, Ironworkers Local 229, and the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce. The PAM Lab coordinator will engage in outreach to East County high schools and adult education centers, connecting with guidance counselors and other faculty members to best boost pathways to apprenticeships. Other outreach efforts will include presentations at community meetings and job fairs.
Apprenticeships are work-based, earn-while-you-learn opportunities that prepare workers for occupations in industries such as construction to manufacturing and healthcare. They are as popular as ever, with the number of registered apprentices jumping from 375,425 nationally at the end of the 2013 fiscal year to 505,371 nationally at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median annual earnings for apprentices in San Diego County are $61,532, according to the California Department of Apprenticeships, yet the East County Economic Development Council has found in multiple studies that very few individuals are aware of apprenticeships or how to enroll in one. On average, 40 percent of East County apprenticeships go unfilled on a regular basis because of a lack of knowledge or poor English, and limited math proficiency.
“This project leverages the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s strong partnership with the Grossmont Union High School District, Grossmont Adult School, and industry to build career opportunities and improve the labor market in East San Diego County,” said Cindy Miles, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District chancellor.
The funds for the Grossmont College award come through $15 million made available through the California Apprenticeship Initiative Pre-Apprenticeship Grant Program. The funds will be released after formal approval by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors on May 16.