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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

Apprentice program benefits campus and participants

By : By Karen Fennie

A program designed to enhance advancement opportunities for Physical Facilities employees is proving to have benefits beyond those envisioned at its inception. The Workforce Development program, launched in 2002, was the result of a collaborative effort between management and CSEA. Thus far, 50 employees have participated through in-house, hands-on training in the painting and masonry trades. “CSEA and management agreed the University had many CSEA employees who were not appropriately qualified to apply for future higher-graded positions on campus,” said JoAnn Navarro, interim associate vice president for Campus Community Services. “We resolved to create a program to begin addressing that deficiency.”

Cleaners, janitors and laborers have participated in the program which allows them to remain in their current job title and grade while splitting their work time between regular duties and apprenticeship duties. Employees go through an application and interview process to gain entry to the program.

Tina Ricardo was in the 2002 pilot program. “I was interested in expanding my horizons when I applied and was accepted into the program,” she said. “I learned a lot in my short time about all aspects of the job.” With a painting apprenticeship under her belt, Ricardo moved to the paint/masonry trade crew in 2003.

Ricardo’s success highlights one of the goals of the program — to increase diversity among the trades that have historically been male dominated. Other goals include increasing employee morale and motivation, enhancing employees’ sense of opportunity, developing a more committed workforce and meeting the University’s operational needs by “growing our own” employees.

A survey conducted after the pilot program provided positive feedback. “Participants commented on how much they learned in a relatively short period of time,” said Navarro. “It was quite apparent that the group developed a great deal of camaraderie and the peer support gave them a great deal of confidence.”

The program also enhanced labor/management relations since it was conceived and delivered collaboratively with everyone able to claim it a success.

This summer, as the program continues, 13 apprenticeships are underway in the paint shop and another two in masonry. Employees receive a comprehensive checklist of training experiences and are evaluated several times during the apprenticeship. The experience is included in an employee’s file and may be considered when job opportunities arise.

For program participant Ricardo, it has had job-related and other benefits. “It was very beneficial for me to have a chance at a second occupation,” she said. “For me, the most important thing was the opportunity to go from third shift to first shift, an upgrade in salary and it helped me in my whole life,” she said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08