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Columbia College Receives Fire Science Initiative Grant
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Columbia College has received formal notification of the intent to award, pending Board of Governor’s approval and available funds commencing on Jan. 18, 2018, a two-year grant to develop a new Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative program.

The college will receive $496,804 over two years to implement the Initiative, recruit students, and launch the training with partner agencies. The award, announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Workforce and Development Division, is part of the new California Apprenticeship Initiative aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs available to California workers.

Columbia College is currently implementing two Apprenticeship Initiatives with similar grant funding in Hospitality Management and Child Development and is excited about expanding opportunities to other industries to provide a well-trained workforce. The Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative Programs have registered 49 Hospitality Management apprentices since January 2017 and 18 Child Development apprentices starting their pathway in January 2018. There are 30 remaining slots for Child Development apprentices, for which the program is still accepting applications.

The new grant will fund the development of the Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship, a pilot project that will allow high school students and adults interested in careers in firefighting to explore opportunities in Fire Service and prepare them for admission to the Columbia College Fire Academy. The program also creates a pipeline for individuals to apply to Cal-JAC, the state’s only apprenticeship in firefighting. Designed with input from partner agencies, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and hands-on training to prepare individuals for the intensity of a fire academy and apprenticeship.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are differentiated from Registered Apprenticeship programs in that they provide a broad-based training program in order to prepare participants for admittance to registered apprenticeship programs.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Technical and Career Education and Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of the Initiative starting in early 2018.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with local partners and agencies to develop a skilled and educated workforce for the Fire Science industry,” Tenbergen said.

Pre-apprentices will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of skills-building workshops and training through different professional agencies at partnering sites, receiving comprehensive training in a range of activities associated with firefighting. Training in other “soft skills” will be incorporated throughout. Once students complete the Initiative components as described, they will be prepared to enter the Columbia College Fire Academy, and eventually apply as apprentices with the California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) or intern with local fire districts. If students desire, they may also pursue an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science with additional coursework.

Along with other fire agency partners in the community, the following agencies have expressed support: Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, Mother Lode Job Training, Motherlode Workforce Investment Board, and California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC).

Other interested parties are encouraged to contact Dr. Tenbergen to be included in upcoming planning meetings to be scheduled for late February 2018.