Apprenticeships offer workers greater opportunity in Sacramento

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Pres. Barack Obama urged more businesses to offer apprenticeships, providing workers an opportunity to earn high-paying jobs – even without a higher education.

In Sacramento, a number of businesses are doing that already. On career site Glassdoor.com, there are over 375 postings for apprentice or trainee positions. Plus, the Sacramento Job Corps offers disadvantaged youth pre-apprenticeship programs in five construction-related industries, as well as non-unionized fields such as carpentry, landscaping, heating and ventilation.

Sacramento's Mark III Construction already has about 20 apprentices in fields like welding, plumbing and construction. They also have an open job posting for a fire sprinkler apprentice.

Mark III talent development director Leslie Westmoreland said the apprentice program is good for both workers and the company.

"It's important because if we don't have a good solid field staff, then it hurts our projects later," Westmoreland said. "Because there's certainly less people getting into the trades, it's important that we foster that relationship and really mentor them through the program."

Ricky Molino joined Mark III as a welding apprentice four months ago, after completing a year at American River College. He said he hopes to build a long-term career at Mark III.

"It's decent money and I get benefits here, really good medical care as well," Molino said. "Definitely room for growth as long as you want to put in the work."

While apprenticeships are often associated with skilled trades such as welding, there are also apprentice programs in fields like sales. At payroll processing firm ADP, there are generally one or two sales apprentices in the Sacramento office, most of whom are recent college graduates.

Former ADP apprentice Ryan Fields had a slightly different background. Though he had attended college for a bit, he was previously working in food and beverage at a local country club before coming to ADP.

"Outside sales was something I had never done before, but coming here was just something different," Fields said. "Trying to make a change, make a bit of money and try to better myself, my career and move forward."

After his six-week apprenticeship in fall 2013, Fields was offered a full-time sales job at ADP. Fields' apprenticeship mentor Seann Stacy said new sales representatives earn a base salary of around $36,000, and can earn up to 50 percent more on commission.

Similar to Mark III, ADP sales executive Jamie Noriega said the apprentice program is beneficial to the firm. She said that the sales representatives who are hired from the program are often better than outside hires.

"I think it's because the apprentice is able to kind of get their feet wet a little bit and learn the skills they need," she explained. "So when they start in the full-time position, they are able to get off to a faster start than people from the outside."


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