California Teachers Association

April 2017

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S E R G I O H E R N A N D E Z takes hands-on learning to a new level in a class called Construction Worker. Some students work on masonry, glazing, carpentry, electrical installation, plumbing, roofing and tiling. Some read blueprints. Others build scale- model houses. The students are building up their job skills and sampling different types of work so they can decide what areas they might want to specialize in, and be prepared to enter the unionized trades. ey are also learning safety on the job, because working in construction can be dangerous. "For many of my students, the class is just the beginning of their career educa- tion," says Hernandez, who chairs the Adult Education Committee for United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). A c o n s t r u c t i o n w o r k e r h a s m a n y educational career paths from which to choose. He or she can learn the trade on the job, attend vocational school, or obtain a bachelor's degree in construction engi- neering technology. Workers often start as unskilled laborers to learn the basics of the trade, then refine their skills by learning a specialized construction craft, such as f loor and wall installation. Construction jobs are pl entiful , pay wel l and provide great b en efits, says Hernandez, who has taught the course for seven years at the Slawson Occupational Center in Bell. "College is great, but it's not for every- one. Sometimes individuals don't really know what they want to do — or they have an innate sense that they want to get their life started now. ere are so many oppor- tunities in the trades, and most students have never heard of them, so why not intro- duce them to this world of opportunity?" T h a t i n c l u d e s w o r k i n g i n H VA C (heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air- c o n diti o n i n g ) , pi p e f itti n g , a n d o th e r a v e n u e s w h e r e s t u - dents can become paid a p p re n t i c e s a n d w o r k their way into a journey- m a n p o s i t i o n o f f e r i n g good pay and benefits. For many years, Her - n an d ez w a s in th e tra d e s him s el f . He worked as a glazier, responsible for cutting, installing and removing glass. He also had his own construction business. "Spending years in the construction industry was very rewarding," he says. In the Trades Educator builds skills and confidence in construction class By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman " I love what I do. Every night when I go to sleep, I feel like I've changed the world." Sergio Hernandez, right, works with student Jose Mandujano. 13 April 2017 perspectives

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