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February 18, 2021

Construction Career Jumpstart

Twenty San Diegans impacted by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis donned hard hats and picked up construction tools to embark on a paid, four-week hands-on training program preparing them for high-paying and rewarding careers in the region’s growing energy, construction and utilities sector. To date, 19 of the 20 graduates have received full-time job offers. 

The program, designed to build a diverse and qualified talent pipeline, aims to meet San Diego employers’ needs while also giving residents from underserved communities access to quality jobs on an accelerated timeline. The program is the first of its kind at the Workforce Partnership and was made possible with a $136,000 grant from SDG&E.  

Woman in hard hat carrying equipment

“The San Diego Workforce Partnership is dedicated to providing San Diegans with tools, resources and pathways to fulfilling careers, an aspiration SDG&E shares with us, making them the ideal partner for us in launching this program,” said Andy Hall, San Diego Workforce Partnership chief impact officer. “It’s essential to level the playing field and give folks the opportunity to embark on a new career that will not only change their trajectory and quality of life, but also bring diversity, inclusion and representation to San Diego’s growing energy, construction and utilities sectors.”  

As many San Diegans struggle with job security amid COVID-19, the Workforce Partnership is looking to partner with local businesses and organizations to continue to grow Construction Career Jumpstart—which proved successful at hitting diversity, graduation and placement metrics—across other employers and industries. SDG&E has committed to fund a portion of the program. Recruitment for the next Construction Career Jumpstart cohort is happening now with details on how to get started at workforce.org/ccj.

“While the genesis of Construction Career Jumpstart was to address impacts of the pandemic and those from underserved communities who have been especially hard hit with job loss or reduced income, we view it as a career launchpad,” said Nancy Smith-Taylor, SDG&E’s director of diversity and workforce management. “Programs like this are more important than ever to offer a path to earning a living wage and more secure jobs while building a pipeline of skilled workers that have a direct link to the economic recovery and continued growth of our region.”  

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Each participant received a $1,000 stipend for completing the training. Nineteen program graduates have received job offers so far. Career pathways include welders, linemen/line women, electricians and several other skilled positions paying $60,000 plus a year within 3-5 years with entry-level jobs starting at a minimum of $19 an hour. 

“My favorite part of the program definitely has to be the teamwork,” said Jorge Badilla, Construction Career Jumpstart graduate.” Even though it’s a 4-week program, there are definitely moments where every single individual had to work together as a team. To me it represented the real world, the real work. Now as a construction wireman, I can see that teamwork is the basic necessity in completing a job.” 

Two students in hard hats working on concrete with SDG&E truck in the background

Construction Career Jumpstart trains participants using an industry-informed curriculum, connects them to job opportunities and offers further support through mentorship as they progress along a career pathway.  

Participants received instruction on safety, trenching, jackhammering, power tool usage and other essential skills in the field. Graduates were then connected with SDG&E and other employers, including: City of San Diego Public Utilities Water & Wastewater, General Dynamics Nassco, R.E. Staite Engineering, San Diego County’s Building Trades Unions and Tesla. 

The training took place on-site at the San Diego Electrical Training (SDETT) Institute following all COVID-19 recommended safety precautions and the cohort encompassed various demographics: 

  • 22% of participants are female 
  • 78% are Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (BIPOC) 
  • 57% have 2- or 4-year college degrees 

For more information on Construction Career Jumpstart, local companies are encouraged to contact business@workforce.org

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