Download Report

Get the full report in PDF format

September 2009

The current economic downturn has caused vast unemployment in California’s construction industry. In the year ending in June 2009, the state lost almost a fifth (18.6%) of its construction jobs, the greatest percentage among all major industries. Getting workers back on the job is crucial to getting the California economy back on its feet.

Yet, increased employment is not enough for an equitable recovery.As the economy revives, new construction jobs must include middle-class career paths and training in skills for the green economy.

As this report demonstrates, building trades apprenticeship programs provide the best model to keep the construction industry on the high road and provide high-quality jobs, to the benefit of the industry, the workers and the greater community.

Key findings:

  • Construction work has two faces. It can provide stable, middle-class careers or temporary, hazardous, dead-end jobs.
  • Apprenticeship programs strengthen communities by providing career paths and consistent health insurance for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They also benefit the building industry by reducing workplace injuries, reducing turnover and providing a motivated and well-trained workforce.
  • Most apprenticeship programs in California (82%) are joint labor-management programs established through collective bargaining. Those programs produce almost all (92%) of the state’s apprenticeship graduates.
  • The joint labor-management programs are more successful than unilateral management programs at removing barriers to graduation and therefore have much higher completion rates.
  • Local policies are needed that encourage and support successful apprenticeship programs. These include local hiring requirements, resources for support services, and using the public contracting process to set and enforce standards.
  • With a proven record of success in producing a skilled workforce, apprenticeship programs provide the best means to train workers in the skills needed for the new green economy.