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By Hector Huezo

Two electric bus manufacturers, Proterra and BYD, have made remarkable training milestones in the rush to prepare workers for California’s green economy future.

On October 4, BYD and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 105 launched the U.S. first electric bus manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program after securing almost one million dollars from California’s High Road Training Partnership. The Worker Education Resource Center and Advancing Communities Together are leading the recruitment and training efforts to ensure that women, Black workers, returning citizens, and veterans are among the first in line for the training program so they can become competitive candidates for BYD’s production job openings.

Graduates hired by BYD are also accelerated candidates for a three-semester apprenticeship program that SMART, BYD and Antelope Valley College launched in 2019. These programs represent the largest investment an electric bus manufacturer has made in upskilling its U.S. workforce in decades.

On October 15, Proterra is graduating its second cohort of trainees as part of their partnership with the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675, Citrus College, The Miguel Contreras Foundation and the Los Angeles County Workforce Development agency. This is the first cohort to graduate under the newly formed USW-Proterra Training and Apprenticeship Trust Fund. Proterra and its unionized workers have joint decision-making to develop cutting-edge training for electric vehicles, batteries, and power trains. 

The trust committee and community partners received a $650,000 training grant from California’s High Road Training Partnership to turn these cohorts into official apprenticeship programs focused on recruiting and training populations excluded from quality union jobs in electric bus manufacturing. 

These investments came as a result of commitments outlined in community benefits agreements (CBA) with Jobs to Move America and its coalition partners.

Both training initiatives are the result of years of work to bolster employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged workers. Our CBAs create shared commitments to tackling the climate and economic crisis, and racial justice by centering the voices of working people in training, recruitment and hiring practices. You can learn more about our CBAs here.

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