Apprenticeship Sees Big Funding Boost in Governor's Proposed Budget

The catastrophic fires that closed 2017 are stark reminders of why California firefighters need to stay the best trained in the world. This week, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal reflected this stark reality, proposing a sizeable boost in funding for apprenticeship.

Thanks to a strong advocacy effort from CPF, including numerous meetings with the governor and his administration, the 2018-2019 state budget allocates nearly $50 million to bolster apprenticeship programs in the fire service and building trades.

A significant chunk of those dollars are proposed to be allocated directly to California’s fire departments through the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC). The proposal will also aid important apprenticeship efforts in the building trades, helping to build a skilled workforce for the jobs of the future.

“Now more than ever, sophisticated and relevant training is essential, and Cal-JAC is the gold standard in our profession,” said Lou Paulson, Cal-JAC co-chair and president of California Professional Firefighters. “We’re gratified to see the governor has listened and is making training a top priority.”

The budget proposal includes funding to ensure reimbursement for training to 166 Cal-JAC affiliated departments in the state. It also provides a one-time funding allocation to cover dollars that were not available in past years because of funding shortages resulting from the Great Recession.

In addition to direct advocacy, Cal-JAC fire chiefs and labor presidents wrote letters to the administration, urging them to make apprenticeship training a priority. Continued grassroots support is critical to ensure the proposal is approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

“This is great news, but now the challenge is getting these funds approved by the Legislature itself,” said Paulson. “It’s important that we continue to make the case that apprenticeship training is critical to our state’s safety and its economic health.”

Established in 1982, the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee is the pre-eminent labor-management firefighter training partnership, co-chaired by CPF and the California State Fire Marshal.