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VALLEY FOCUS | Pacoima

Classes Open Door to Construction Trades

September 10, 1998|TOM SCHULTZ

Painting, plumbing and pile driving. Carpentry.

"These are tough jobs," said Hank Springer. "But for those who are tough enough to do the work, these are good jobs."

Springer and other officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District gathered at the Pacoima Skills Center on Wednesday and unveiled a new free program for women and men who wish to learn more about becoming a union-sponsored apprentice in those trades.

The annual budget for the program is $350,000 and it is funded by state money, Springer said.

Students in the 12-week Apprenticeship Preparation Class will receive an overview of careers in more than 20 trades, said Springer, an advisor for the school district's Division of Adult and Career Education.

Pacoima is the first Valley location for the program, sponsored by the school district. Three other vocational and community centers in East and South Central Los Angeles have offered the same program for 12 years.

"This is a program where we can open student minds up to all the options in the construction trade," said instructor B.J. Sehwani. "The program goal is to provide trainees with knowledge of skilled craftsman trades and information on how each local trade union conducts its [apprenticeship program] selection process."

To prepare for apprenticeships, students in the preparatory program study math, visit job sites and learn job interview techniques, Sehwani said.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old. A high school diploma or passage of the GED equivalency test is not a requirement to enroll.

Roughly 80% of program graduates succeed in finding work, Springer said.

Robert Milewsky, who represents Carpenters Local Union 1506, said more than half of that organization's apprentices took the classes.

Pacoima Skills Center is at 13524 Van Nuys Blvd. For more information, call (818) 896-9558.

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