Public Affairs, The California State University

“Troops to Trades” Training for Employment

By Stephanie Thara

As part of the CSU Apprenticeship Program, the recently launched “Troops to Trades” program offers military veterans the opportunity to develop unique trade skills that will help them excel in the workforce.

The program—a collaboration between the CSU Chancellor’s Office, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and California Department of Veteran Affairs— allows eligible military members to participate in a non-paid apprenticeship at a facilities services department at a CSU campus, while still earning their benefits from the GI Bill. In addition to receiving on-the-job training, participants in the program are also paired with a mentor and offered night classes to help refine and enhance their talents in a particular vocation.

“What’s great is that veterans already have a base knowledge of trade skills from their service in the military,” said Shawn Holland, Physical Plant Program Manager at the CSU Chancellor’s Office. “Now they can come back, and we can help advance their current skills and get them employed. “

Often times, soldiers that return from the service have difficulties obtaining employment because of a lack of work experience. Troops to Trades helps veterans reintegrate into the civilian workforce by providing advanced vocational training in 10 skilled trades and potential full-time employment at a CSU campus if the apprenticeship is completed satisfactorily. The program trains in vocations including electrician, building service engineer, mechanic, operations engineer, locksmith, carpenter, painter, automotive, metal worker and plumber.

David Aleman is one of the participants in the Troops to Trades internship program, a collaboration between the CSU Chancellor’s Office, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Photo: Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSBThe first veteran to participate in the program, David Aleman, recently started his internship at Cal State San Bernardino’s facilities services-heating and air conditioning department. Aleman, a U.S. Army combat veteran, is learning about building and campus central plant heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems through his work with a senior building service engineer.

“I’m very excited to be at CSUSB and to have the opportunity to learn a new trade through this VA program,” said Aleman. “From day one, I have met so many friendly and talented people whom I’ve learned from.”