A program to train much needed transit operations and maintenance workers is taking shape thanks to a one-million dollar grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Mission College of Santa Clara, and the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) Local 265 are launching the Transit Apprenticeships for Professional Career Advancement initiative to build a unique system of apprenticeship programs to recruit and train 100 apprentices during the two-year grant period.
The initiative was developed to address increasing demand for public transit in Santa Clara Valley and the Bay Area; and an impending personnel crisis in the public transit industry nationally, with a high percentage of transit employees retiring soon or currently eligible to retire. New Department of Transportation studies show that over the next 10 years the public transit industry will need to hire and train new workers equivalent to 126% of today’s total workforce.
VTA’s workforce development strategy, “Grow Your Own”, offers current VTA workers the opportunity to learn new skills and move into new careers using this apprenticeship approach. These opportunities begin with the entry-level position of a professional coach operator and lead to the highest paid ATU, and hardest to fill, position of Overhead Line Worker.
“It’s very gratifying to provide our most important resource – our employees – the opportunity for career growth and advancement,” stated VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez. VTA and its largest union, ATU Local 265, have created several industry-leading training programs through their Joint Workforce Investment initiative, a nationally acclaimed labor/management partnership. “Our ongoing partnership with Mission College will help deliver this critical apprenticeship training which will build our bench of employees and fill these increasingly technical job classifications that require specialized knowledge.”
The new funding will allow VTA to construct a new light rail training classroom and hands-on laboratory at VTA’s Guadalupe Division, to give light rail apprentices the most effective and complete training experience. One hundred apprentices will receive full salary and benefits during their training programs. By the end of the two-year grant period, apprentices will receive college credit through Mission College upon successful completion of their apprenticeship.
Anyone interested in the apprenticeship programs should check for postings here.