A construction site in Hillcrest. Photo credit: Courtesy

The San Diego Workforce Partnership would like to connect with local businesses and organizations to expand its Construction Career Jumpstart program across other industries.

Twenty San Diegans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis donned hard hats and picked up construction tools for four weeks of hands-on training in the initial phase of the program.

The goal? To prepare the trainees for 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. 

“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,” said Andy Hall, San Diego Workforce Partnership’s chief impact officer 

The training is the first of its kind at the Workforce Partnership and was made possible with a $136,000 grant from San Diego Gas & Electric. Nancy Smith-Taylor, SDG&E’s director of diversity and workforce management, called the program “a career launchpad.”

 “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,” Smith-Taylor said.  

SDG&E has committed to fund a portion of the expanded program.

In addition, recruitment for the next Construction Career Jumpstart class has begun.

To qualify, applicants must live in San Diego County, have a high school diploma or GED and a valid CA driver’s license, while being able to demonstrate a need for services based on household income or public assistance. For details on how to get started, see workforce.org/ccj

Each participant receives a $1,000 stipend for completing the training. The program prepares workers for several positions, including welders, linemen/line women and electricians. The skilled positions pay $60,000 or more a year within three to five years.

Entry-level jobs start at $19 an hour. 

“To me it represented the real world, the real work,” said Jorge Badilla, a program graduate. “Now as a construction wireman, I can see that teamwork is the basic necessity in completing a job.”   

Participants received instruction on safety, trenching, jackhammering, power-tool usage and other essential skills.

Graduates were then connected with SDG&E and other employers, including the City of San Diego, General Dynamics NASSCO, R.E. Staite Engineering, Tesla and San Diego County’s building trades unions. 

More than three quarters of the first cohort were people of color, while a fifth were women. Almost 60% had completed two- or four-year college degrees. 

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

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