IID is opining organizations across the U.S. to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week. Apprenticeship is an “earn and learn” training model that combines work-based learning with related classroom instruction using the highest industry standards.
One of the highlights of IID’s Employment Relations and Personnel Development Section is its outstandingly successful state apprenticeship programs. Since 1994, IID has hired hundreds of employees who have successfully put in the tremendous amount of on-the-job effort needed to earn journeyman classification status in their respective fields.
Today, in cooperation with Imperial Valley College and under the state’s Division of Apprentice Standards, the district provides 11 apprenticeship programs, most of which are in the Energy Department. They are: lineman, electrician, generation mechanic, meter technician, relays technician, substation electrician, telecommunications technician, hydro operator, control operator, instrument technician and, in the Water Department, SCADA/Telecommunications technician.
Each apprenticeship program consists of on-the-job-training and college-level course work, culminating over a period of four years. Each apprentice must hold a 2.0 grade point average while maintaining all work-related certifications (such as CPR, pole top rescue, etc.), adhere to all safety processes and attend all other required training sessions. To assure consistency, all apprentices receive a comprehensive performance evaluation every six months.
“We are very proud of all our apprenticeship programs offered through the district and of our employees who do the work to complete the programs as part of their career,” said Marcia Rivera, officer, Employee Relations and Personnel Development. “It takes much dedication on everyone’s part and the district and the people we serve derive a great deal of benefit by having skilled, experienced employees in their trades.”
Because IID is a power utility, the first four classes (Electrical Trade 0101–0104) are required for all apprentices. Upon completion of the fourth class, each apprentice must successfully pass a senior exam, with a score of no less than 80 percent. Once promoted to senior apprentices, each diversifies into trade-specific coursework.
After fulfilling all coursework and on-the-job-training, the senior apprentices are administered two exams, one written and one practical. Testing results, training histories, educational records and a formal recommendation of promotion to journeyman is then forwarded to the Division of Apprenticeship Standards, which audits and issues the state journeyman cards.
Following are Q&As with some of IID’s recent and current apprentice program participants.
- Which apprenticeship program are you currently enrolled in?
- When did you start it and when do you expect to finish?
- What are you learning in the program?
- Why did you apply for the program?
- What has been the best part of being in the program?
Meter Technician Apprentice
- I am enrolled in the Meter Technician Apprenticeship Program.
- I officially started working in the La Quinta Meter Shop February 2015 and I expect to complete my training in February 2019.
- I am currently enrolled in ELT 104 which, focuses on power, distribution and instrument transformers. The course focuses on the different types of Wye and Delta connections. We are also learning about the different KVA ratings, ratios and polarity. The instructor continues to emphasize the importance of math by including calculations, as well as how to troubleshoot series, parallel and combination circuits.
- I worked as a Meter Reader for almost 10 years and when the position for Meter Tech Apprentice became available, I saw it as a challenge as well as a step forward. As part of the program, there is a minimum amount of class hours required that further prepares you for the new and constant changing technology.
- The best part has been the new challenges that I have encountered both in the field as well as in the Meter Shop along with a well-trained and experienced group of journeymen that have been instrumental in my training.
Telecom Tech, Senior Apprentice
- I am currently enrolled in the Telecommunications Technician Apprenticeship Program.
- I started immediately after I began working for the district in March 2014. I expect to finish in March 2018.
- I am learning SCADA and Data-Communication theory. The program starts with the basic A/C and D/C theory and principals. We learned the basic principles, methods, materials, tools and equipment use to install, maintain, and repair solid state, electronic and electrical controls. We also have learned how to use computers and test equipment as well as diagnostic software to troubleshoot electro-mechanical, fiber optics, microwave, video surveillance, Voice over IP, and radio systems. The program also demonstrates how to read and interpret blueprints, schematic, and technical manuals. The Telecommunication apprenticeship program also shows the use of different test equipment like oscilloscopes, optical domain reflectometers, signal generators, spectrum analyzers, protocol analyzers, multi-meters, telephone testers, power meters, and computer software used to install, maintain, repair SCADA and Data-Communications systems.
- I consider the Telecommunications Apprentice program to be perfect fit for me, it has enhanced my career by enormous amount of knowledge and information that I have acquired and developed while working in this field. I have always liked to work with electronics. Previously, I was an Electronics Technician in the Navy. I believe my skills and experience are tailored to this position, allowing me to contribute to the district’s mission.
- The best part of this program is the amount of instruction received. I have been really fortunate have awesome instructors and mentors who have helped me every step of the way. James Gaxiola is one of the instructors and mentor who has gone out of his way to answer questions. The enormous amount of knowledge and information that he provides directly applies to the field.
Relay Technician Apprentice
- I am currently enrolled in the district’s Relay Technician Apprenticeship Program.
- I only recently entered the program, in September of this year. I expect to finish in 2020.
- We are currently learning how to wire panels. In the future, I will learn the function of protective relays, how to make tests and how to collect data from it.
- I applied because it is a great opportunity to develop professionally.
- I’m still fairly new, however, I enjoy learning new things and expanding my knowledge.
Lineman Apprentice Senior
- I am enrolled in the Lineman Apprentice Program and am currently in the 108 class.
- I joined the IID apprentice program in October 2012: however, I have been in the Irby apprentice program since 2012.
- I am currently learning about electrical safety and how to safely perform line work.
- I applied because it is the only way to become a journeyman lineman.
- The program has given me the opportunity of learning from some of the best linemen in California.