Clackamas Community College rolls out the wire
In an effort to address the lack of workers in the trade industry, Clackamas Community College has added a new apprenticeship program, specifically for electricians.
CCC has partnered with employers from Benchmade, Enoch Precision Machining and Blount International to form the Northwest Willamette Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) this fall to offer a Limited Maintenance Electrician (LME) Apprenticeship program.
During the apprenticeship, students will work full-time for a business learning how to repair, replace and maintain electrical systems, while taking courses at Oregon City's CCC campus, studying basic electricity and manufacturing.
"Many years ago, a wave of retirements were going to hit and it is now coming into fruition. This is not just the LME — this is the majority of trades," said Shelly Tracy, director of Wilsonville campus apprenticeship, fire, science and emergency management. "Apprenticeships aren't done in a year or less; most apprenticeships take a minimum of two years and up to five years."
All public and government entities are required to have licensed LME for electrical work — although LME's aren't authorized to make new electrical installations.
Because of local businesses' demand for electricians, CCC decided to bring an LME Apprenticeship program on board. Otherwise, the closest LME program was in Multnomah County.
"We had a lot of employers contacting us to see if we had an LME program, which we didn't at the time, and they showed interest," Tracy said. "So what we did a year and a half ago was had an open house, invited all the businesses we could that had contacted us, and then reached out further than that and asked the question: 'Would you want to start an apprenticeship and be part of that committee?' That's how it all started."
At the beginning of the year, CCC received a $43,000 Oregon Apprenticeships in Manufacturing (AIM) Grant — the full grant was awarded to the state of Oregon from the U.S. Department of Labor — to help kickstart the LME Apprenticeship program. The grant helps pay for supplies and books for the apprentices, outreach, marketing and more.
James Logan of Newberg was just approved for his apprenticeship at CCC earlier this summer and will start classes this fall.
Logan's father was an electrician and engineer, and his grandfather was an engineer, so he said he's happy to follow in their footsteps.
"I'm looking forward to going to class and learning everything there is to know about electricity," Logan said. "Whether it is opening my own business or staying at the college, I want to do something within the electrical field."
Right now, Logan is working under a journeyman — a skilled worker who's completed an apprenticeship — to do miscellaneous electrical work on all three CCC campuses.
The LME Apprenticeship is a two-year program and currently six students are registered with the program at CCC. Five businesses or training agents are also dialed in.
In other programs, Tracy said hundreds of apprentices sign up but the LME program is new and there's only five companies right now — an apprentice has to work one-on-one with a journeyman and each company usually has one or two journeymen if it's small.
"I think it's going to be a great experience. We're definitely surveying and going to get feedback from our students to see how they feel about our first year," Tracy said. "We have an LME committee in our backyard and we've got more apprenticeships on their way that CCC has not had before — more (on) the manufacturing side. So in the next year we're looking at one or two more apprenticeships in different fields."