SUCCESS SNAPSHOT: How union journeys began with IBEW Local 11's table at the GLA Career Fair


May 24, 2019
Nick and Adam smile at an event

Holding a free annual Career Fair is one of the ways that the impact of our Workforce Development team has expanded beyond plain old training on the roof. Gaining experience with rooftop installation work is important, of course – it's definitely the centerpiece of our program at GRID Alternatives. But as any jobseeker can tell you, some of the most important moments learning how to work in the solar industry are happening outside of the job site. Doing sit-down interviews, exploring networking opportunities, and formulating connections make a difference in today's workforce; that's why events like the 5th Annual Solar Industry Career Fair are vital to help workers in the early stages of their careers show employers what they're made of. When it leads to a job offer, getting an employers and jobseeker face-to-face with one another is uniquely valuable; as Greater Los Angeles Executive Director Michael Kadish puts it, "Solar leads to good-paying jobs in communities that need the opportunities the most." 

Trainees raise their arms in celebration
Adan, center, adds his name to the East Los Angeles Skills Center's legacy of landing great solar jobs.

Ten well-qualified GRID Construction trainees found out firsthand what opportunity looks like this May, when the Career Fair helped them get hired into high-demand Construction Wireman positions. Recent ELASC graduate Adam Amaro and nine of his classmates left the Career Fair with offers to join the CW program with IBEW Local 11, our longtime partners and a returning Career Fair employer. For Amaro, native to Montebello, a chance to fill this entry-level union spot and pursue even more electrical training is groundbreaking. "I thank the people who help coordinate our volunteer opportunities at GLA, for getting us ready to do something like this," he reports. Amaro hopes to own his own business as an electrician someday, working for himself and providing for his family, and taking this new journey with IBEW will ensure that he's qualified to do so.

Jennifer Kropke is the Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local 11, so she has a perceptive sense of what makes a training program effective and why a union like IBEW would want to separate the best from the rest. "GRID Alternatives has been, and continues to be, a valued partner," Kropke notes. "Their diverse trainees bring a strong foundation of solar installation experience with them into our apprenticeship." The labor community outside of the L.A. region should take note too: California is in the middle of a critical energy transition, and making sure that trainees from local vocational schools and community colleges have a roadmap to middle-class jobs in organized labor puts equity front and center in the coming hiring boom.

"It makes me proud to see these young men seeking out a long-term opportunity with IBEW," writes Adewale OgunBadejo, GLA Workforce Development Manager. As residents of Los Angeles, we'll all depend on union employees and union talents to keep our green city running for years to come. Here at GRID, we look forward to growing the number of 2019 trainees placed in union fields like the CW program, working with more promising trainees sent our way by ELASC. Professor Larry Calderon at ELASC put it well, and we couldn't agree more: "It makes me proud to see the outcome – our students making a difference."

To learn more about Installation Basics Training and other GRID opportunities to enhance your success as a jobseeker, explore workforce programs at GRID.