By itself, the phrase “skilled and trained workforce” speaks to excellence. We want our teachers, healthcare providers, construction professionals, anyone really, to be skilled and trained. Here at ABC NorCal, we are all about training and ensuring folks are safe and skilled.

Recently, “skilled and trained workforce” has made its way into several fast moving pieces of legislation; it is in this context that “skilled and trained workforce” requires closer examination.

Per bills like AB 566 (O’Donnell), which is on the Governor's desk and all but signed, a “skilled and trained workforce” is a workforce that meets the following conditions:
  1. All workers are either skilled journeypersons or apprentices in a Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) state approved apprenticeship program.
  2. A percentage of all workers are graduates of state approved apprenticeship programs. This percentage increases yearly and varies a bit from bill to bill. 
  3. All journeypersons have at least as many on-the-job training hours as a graduate from a state approved apprenticeship program.
These requirements would apply to all types of public works construction performed for schools and other local entities. Here’s a breakdown and the details by bill.

Lease-Leaseback
AB 566 (O’Donnell) Requires 30% of workforce must be graduates from a state approved apprenticeship program by January 1, 2016. Subsequent years are as follows: 40% by January 1, 2017, 50% by January 1, 2018, and 60% by January 1, 2019.

Design/Build
AB 1358 (Dabaneh) Requires 20% of workforce must be graduates from a state approved apprenticeship program by July 1, 2016. Subsequent years are as follows: 30% by July 1, 2017, 40% by July 1, 2018, and 50% by July 1, 2019.

Best Value Procurement Method
AB 1185 (Ridley –Thomas) Requires 20% of workforce must be graduates from a state approved apprenticeship program by January 1, 2016. Subsequent years are as follows: 30% by January 1, 2017, 40% by January 1, 2018, and 50% by January 1, 2019.

Best Value Procurement Method on Design/Build
SB 762 (Wolk) Requires 20% of workforce must be graduates from a state approved apprenticeship program by January 1, 2016. Subsequent years are as follows: 30% by January 1, 2017, 40% by January 1, 2018, 50% by January 1, 2019 and 60% by 2020.

With that said, Sunnyvale is an example of a city that recently decided to shine the spotlight on “skilled and trained workforce” and require apprentices on all private projects, demonstrating that even if you do all private construction all of the time, you are still likely to encounter a need for a “skilled and trained workforce” as defined above.

What does all of this mean exactly? Let’s break it down.

Let’s say that you have a workforce of ten journeypersons. Under the current California Code of Regulations, all ten must have the equivalent experience and on-the-job training hours as an apprenticeship program graduate OR be graduates from an accredited apprenticeship program.

These bills take it one step further and require that all of your workers have the hours AND a percentage of them must be graduates.

So using the example of a ten journeyperson-workforce mentioned above, starting January 1, 2016, three of your ten workers will have to be graduates or you can’t bid on the work. In 2017, four of your ten have to be graduates; in 2018, five of your ten have to be graduates and in 2019, six of your ten have to be graduates.

The challenge is that there are plenty of skilled and trained construction professionals out there who are not state approved (or federal, OUTSIDE of California) apprenticeship program graduates. Some have received their training in the field over many years, some have received their training in vocational school and some have received their training in the military. What happens with these folks?

Another challenge is the timing. With effective dates starting January, 1, 2016, these bills will certainly impact next summer’s work. Meaning you have a mere five months to ensure you have the workforce you need. Really there’s no time to wait.

We recommend that you do two things right now.
  1. Conduct an internal review of your workforce.
    - Find out who has graduated from a state approved apprenticeship program or federal program outside of California.
    - Collect graduation certificates so that you have them on hand when you are bidding work.
    - Evaluate your graduate numbers to see if you are even eligible to bid on these projects.
    - Ensure that your workers have at least as many hours as someone who has graduated from a state approved apprenticeship program. Have this information documented as verification will be required.
  2. Have your journeypersons take a Skills Assessment to help you identify the following:
    - Your employees’ knowledge levels
    - If you have employees who could benefit from “upgrade” training
    - If you have employees who have the knowledge, skills and experience but lack the graduation certificate. These individuals are great candidates to participate in our Skills Qualification Program that can provide a pathway to apprenticeship. 
Then give us a call. We know you have a skilled workforce; let us help you validate it and ensure that you can bid the work you want. Contact Charles Vernocy, charles@abcnorcal.org, (p) 925.960.8503. 

Want to be the first to know about other new workforce solutions we are developing? Click here to get on our list to receive periodic updates.

UPDATE: Governor Brown signed all four skilled and trained workforce bills mentioned above in mid October 2015. They will go into effect January 1, 2016.

Megan Kilkenny is the Marketing Communications Director for ABC NorCal, a trade association dedicated to serving construction professionals from Fresno to the Oregon border. #lovewhatyoudo, #lovewhatyoubuild