Columbia College has received formal notification of the intent to award a 33-month grant to develop another new apprenticeship program in Forestry and Natural Resources, beginning in Fall 2019. Columbia College is currently implementing hospitality and child development apprenticeships as well as a fire science pre-apprenticeship with similar grant funding and is excited about expanding opportunities to other industries that are in need of a well-trained workforce. Applications for the existing apprenticeship programs are still being accepted.
The new award, just announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Workforce and Development Division, is part of the California Apprenticeship Initiative, aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship programs available to California workers through Prop 98 funding.
“Columbia College is strategically located in the Yosemite Valley where Fire and Forestry is a way of life,” said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “The recent increase in devastating fires across the state emphasizes the need for active forest management. With the well-established programs in Fire Science and Forestry, Columbia College is in a position to take a leadership role in Fire and Forest Management. This grant will help advance the apprenticeship programs tremendously.”
The grant will fund the development of the Columbia College Forestry and Natural Resources Apprenticeship, that will give up to 25 students the opportunity to “earn while they learn” at partnering Forestry and Natural Resource employers Greater Valley Conservation Corps and Sierra Resource Management. Designed with input from the sponsoring employers, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and on-the-job training in a compressed program. Apprentices will work as Forest Conservation Technicians and at the conclusion of the 18-month program will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Division of Apprenticeship Standards as well as a Skills Attainment Certificate from Columbia College in the Management and Restoration of Fire-Adapted Ecosystems. The grant funding covers all tuition, books, and related costs for apprentices while they attend Columbia College and the employers pay their wages.
The college will receive $500,000 over the two years and nine months to implement the curriculum, receive approval of the apprenticeships through the California Division of Apprentice Standards, enroll students, and launch the training at partnering work sites.
Along with the already-committed employer partners, the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools also expressed support.
Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Career Technical Education and Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of these new apprenticeships starting in late 2019. He enthuses, “Forestry and Natural Resources is one of Columbia College’s signature programs, and we are excited to expand local apprenticeship opportunities into this high-demand field. The California Apprenticeship Initiative continues to have a positive impact on our local workforce and economy.”
Apprentices will rotate through different professional areas at partnering sites over an 18- to 24-month period, receiving comprehensive training in a range of activities associated with each industry. Safety training and essential job skills will be incorporated throughout. Apprentices will complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of employer-paid on-the-job training, while completing 288 instructional hours as college students. If students desire, they may continue with additional coursework toward an Associate’s degree.
Additional Forestry and Natural Resource agencies and businesses who may be interested in partnering with Columbia College are encouraged to contact Dr. Tenbergen, Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-588-5142.