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Berkeley Lab Launches Apprenticeship Program for Electrical Workers

Media contact: Paul Preuss, 510-486-6249

Apprentice electricians will join Berkeley Lab’s Facilities Division to gain on-the-job training, thanks to a historic agreement between the Lab and the Alameda County Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, sponsored by Local 595 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Northern California chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Berkeley, CA – Apprentice electricians will now have the chance to hone their skills at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed October 27 by representatives of Berkeley Lab and the Alameda County Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC). The agreement will bring the apprentices to the Lab’s Facilities Division as part of their five-year-long program to become certified in the electrical trade.

“This MOU is an example of a new partnership between Berkeley Lab and the Building Trades Council of Alameda, and provides important training opportunities for a skilled craft whose performance is critical to the safe and efficient maintenance and renewal of Berkeley Lab’s infrastructure,” says Jim Krupnick, the Lab’s Chief Operating Officer and Associate Laboratory Director for Operations.

The Memorandum of Understanding is the culmination of discussions begun in the spring of 2009 between Krupnick and Victor Uno, the business manager of Local 595 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). IBEW jointly sponsors the JATC training facility with the Northern California chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“The idea of a partnership between Berkeley Lab and the JATC emerged from the recognition of the growing importance of green technology and science, and the need to train the future work force and contribute to the local community with employment,” says Uno, who previously worked at Berkeley Lab for 10 years as an electrician in the Facilities Division.

“In the past, the Lab has tried to create its own training programs,” says Facilities Division Director Jennifer Ridgeway, “but every major craft has their own requirements, which made it hard to cover everything in-house.” The partnership with the JATC is an important step forward. “They are in the business to train, and they train ‘em well,” says Ridgeway.

In the spring, Krupnick, Ridgeway, and Ken Fletcher of Facilities toured the JATC’s training facility in San Leandro, which is under the direction of Byron Benton. The $3-million state-of-the-art facility has instruction in almost two dozen areas of residential, commercial, and industrial electrical construction and installation, from basic residential wiring to photovoltaics and direct digital controls for energy management.

The five-year apprenticeship program combines JATC instruction with 900 hours of courses at Chabot College in Hayward and 8,000 hours of hands-on, on-the-job training. The Berkeley Lab partnership is the first with a federal agency in the Bay Area. Ridgeway says she came away with an increased appreciation of the trade itself. “I was impressed by what our electricians do. For their part, our people have a sense of pride in helping to train the next generation.”

Victor Uno agrees. “The idea of having apprentices working at the Lab is being welcomed by the Lab’s electrical shop with much anticipation,” noting that four apprentices will begin work on Monday, Nov. 2.

Uno cites the vital role of Don Campbell, executive director of the Northern California Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, in bringing the agreement to a successful conclusion. Ridgeway credits Vera Potapenko, Chief Human Resources Officer and Department Head for Human Resources (HR), Jeffrey Fernandez, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Rosio Alvarez, Chief Information Officer (CIO), and Rachel Carl, Amy Lowe, Cynthia Coolahan, and Victor Roberts of HR, Jean Kissel, Paula Meo, Nancy Lee, Brian Fox, and Lon Freeman of the Office of the CFO, and Nancy Fleischauer, Charles Kwa, Mary Lee, Frank Hanny, and Daisy Guerrero of the Information Technology Division for working to align the Lab’s systems to the state-mandated functions of the JATC.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research for DOE’s Office of Science and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at http://www.lbl.gov.

Pictured at the signing of the apprenticeship memorandum of understanding are, front row from left, Byron Benton, JATC training facility director; Don Campbell, Don Campbell, executive director of the Northern California Chapter of NECA; Victor Uno, business manager of IBEW Local 595; and Jennifer Ridgeway, Facilities Division Director; second row from left, Skip Lee; Marvin Velante; Jim Krupnick, Berkeley Lab COO and Associate Laboratory Director for Operations; Maha Ibrahim, congressional aide to Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Bill Mattson; Paul Alivisatos, Berkeley Lab Interim Director; Steve Warner; Anne Detzner; back row from left, Dennis Nielsen, Eric Klopp, Steve Cooper, Kent Largent, Jim Murphy, Ryan Sprague, Ray Estrada. Unless otherwise identified, all pictured are members of the Facilities Division. (Photo Roy Kaltschmidt. Click on image for best resolution.)

Pictured at the signing of the apprenticeship memorandum of understanding are, front row from left, Byron Benton, JATC training facility director, Don Campbell, executive director of the Northern California Chapter of NECA, Victor Uno, business manager of IBEW Local 595, and Jennifer Ridgeway, Facilities Division Director; second row from left, Skip Lee, Marvin Velante, Jim Krupnick, Berkeley Lab COO and Associate Laboratory Director for Operations, Maha Ibrahim, congressional aide to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Bill Mattson, Paul Alivisatos, Berkeley Lab Interim Director, Steve Warner, Anne Detzner; back row from left, Dennis Nielsen, Eric Klopp, Steve Cooper, Kent Largent, Jim Murphy, Ryan Sprague, Ray Estrada. Those not otherwise identified are members of the Facilities Division. (Photo Roy Kaltschmidt. Click on image for best resolution.)

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