Successful Apprenticeship Readiness Program Expands to Southwestern College

Recent graduates of the construction apprenticeship program join local leaders at press conference.
Recent graduates of the construction apprenticeship readiness program join Southwestern College officials and partners from the construction trades at recent news conference.

Southwestern College will partner with the San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council and the San Diego Workforce Partnership to expand its High Road Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Program to Southwestern College this fall semester.

This free program will prepare students for rewarding, well-paying careers in the construction industry. From its inception, the program has focused on opening opportunities for under-represented populations to enter apprenticeship programs and secure well-paying union construction jobs.

Students, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds, are encouraged to apply when the program begins this fall. More information will be announced as the application process becomes available.

“We’ve long worked to build programs that help our students thrive outside of traditional academic setting—and the Apprenticeship Readiness Program is exactly the kind of training that gives students real opportunity,” said Southwestern College Governing Board President Roberto Alcantar at a press conference announcing the partnership on Thursday.

Joining Southwestern College leaders to announce the partnership were local leaders representing the various trades and students who have successfully completed the readiness program.

“There are millions of jobs in the skilled trades, but millions of workers have never seen themselves in these jobs because they’ve never seen someone like them in these jobs,” said Carol Kim, business manager of the San Diego Building & Construction Trades. “Southwestern serves a diverse student population—nearly 90 percent students of color. On behalf of the member unions of the San Diego Building & Construction Trades, we can’t wait to welcome your students into rewarding careers as union workers.”

The 12-week program has successfully placed 97 percent of graduates into construction careers, including local union apprenticeships. More than 10,000 skilled workers are needed in coming years to meet the demand of construction projects in San Diego County.

Abigail Casteñeda was one of those successful graduates who found her way to the program during COVID. She said she had to quit her job and wanted a new opportunity to do something more fulfilling.

“Women are supported,” said Casteñeda, who is a member of IBEW Local 569.  “We have a sisterhood at the union. We all get together and talk about different things. I’m very happy.”

The program’s expansion to Southwestern College will help prepare more students for rewarding union careers in the skilled trades and meet local industry needs.

“Thanks to the partners who make this program possible, we’re able to offer this valuable experience at no cost to our students—meaning that our students can earn valuable experience and certifications they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford,” said Myesha Jackson, director of Continuing Education at Southwestern College.

Information on how to enroll in the Southwestern College program will be posted on the college’s Continuing Education webpage.