By: Staff Writer

UCR University Extension’s apprenticeship program gives more to students than just hands-on learning and work experience in their chosen field — it works with students to align their skills and interests to set them up for a long-term career. Unlike internships, our apprenticeship program offers paid positions that can lead to full-time employment.

In fact, apprenticeships are often considered the gold standard of work-based learning. Each year, over 800K apprentices work in the fields of clean energy, education, cybersecurity, engineering, healthcare and transportation. To bring a spotlight to our apprenticeship opportunities, we’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week from November 13-19.

US Department of Labor and Apprenticeship Ambassador logos With federal grant money from the Department of Labor (DOL), UCR University Extension’s Apprenticeship Program is part of a DOL effort to build a highly-skilled domestic workforce that lessens demand for H1B (nonimmigrant workers in specialty occupations) hirings, while offering a clear pathway for apprentices from educational programs to jobs and careers.

Apprenticeships are pretty typical in the trades: you become a carpenter or an electrician through an apprenticeship, but this program is geared for working professionals who may have some college experience and are looking to upskill in their current position, or move into a new area. In target audience, objective, and scope, it’s right up UCR University Extension’s alley.

Since its beginning, the Apprenticeship Program has served over 200 prospective apprentices, with three currently working as apprentices in Cybersecurity and Project Management roles; four have completed apprenticeships in Project Management roles; and other candidates are in various stages of the apprenticeship process.

Erick Sarceno, a project management apprentice with Lafayette Engineering, Inc., found UCR University Extension’s apprenticeship program after graduating from Cal State San Bernardino. He was looking for more firsthand experience and knowledge to puruse his dream of starting his own construction company and decided to enroll in the Professional Certificate in Project Management.

Erick says, “The program has been really great. I felt like the opportunity that UCR University Extension was offering me was something I couldn’t really let go of—giving me the chance to obtain a certificate and help me gain the experience I want and need.”

Career Services Advisor Davil Jackson works with prospective apprentices from the beginning, explaining the Apprenticeship Program and how it differs from an internship (apprentices gain full-time, paid employment that includes four built-in, goal-based wage increases paired with a reduced-tuition UCR University Extension professional certificate program directly related to the job), gauging interest and administering a Strong Interest Inventory assessment, and then offering resume prep, mock interviews, interview scheduling, and placement assistance.

Once an apprenticeship starts, Davil remains involved in a mentorship role. He says, “Working directly with learners and local programs, I have a clear understanding of the barriers that currently exist. With this additional knowledge and skill in identifying the systems that perpetuate these barriers, I can develop policies to make significant and lasting change.”

Davil continues, “Apprenticeship helps to eliminate some of the barriers that currently exist and gives individuals an opportunity to gain entry into high demand and high paying career fields. As a mentor, I also work with apprentices to help them develop the confidence that they need to achieve success in their careers.”

“We met one of our apprenticeship candiates through the Moreno Valley Business and Economic Research Center. He expressed his future career plans and goals, and we were able to connect him with an apprenticeship employer that closely aligned with his career trajectory. After successful completion of the apprenticeship program, he has the knowledge and experience necessary to continue on his project management career path.”

“He has also been offered an elevated position with his employer that offers a significant increase in pay, and will continue to propel him into success in the industry. The apprentice used apprenticeship as a tool to develop the knowledge and experience to be successful in the industry. This is one of the beneficial factors of apprenticeship,” concludes Davil.

Working directly with prospective employers is UCR University Extension’s Regional Director of Apprentice Programs, Ivan Melchor, has helped engage 17 prospective apprenticeship employers throughout the life of the Apprenticeship Program. The Frozen Bean and Captain I.T. have hired multiple apprentices throughout the last 3 years. Current partners have expressed interest in hiring more apprentices in the near future.

Ivan says, “My goal is to increase the visibility and awareness of apprenticeships in general. Davil and I are happy to meet with prospective apprenticeship employer partners to tell them about all the benefits of hiring an apprentice! We advise prospective apprenticeship employer partners that hiring apprentices will increase loyalty and retention, while lowering hiring, training, and separation costs.”

“Generally speaking, there are few employers that are familiar with the benefits of hiring apprentices; Davil and I want to contribute to the overall growth of apprenticeships on a national level,” Ivan said.

Ivan also works with employers to identify and set up third-party training for internal mentors for apprentices. The mentors will guide the apprentices and determine whether they are meeting their competencies, expectations, and achieving their salary raises.

The goal is to create long-lasting careers for our apprentices and to help our Apprentice Employer Partners create a sustainable worker pipeline to help them succeed. The UCR University Extension Apprenticeship Program succeeds when our apprentices and Apprenticeship Employer Partners succeed.

Another project management apprentice, Rodrigo Sarmiento, tells us, “Experience is everything in this industry so one of the great things about the UCR University Extension Apprenticeship Program is that they give you immediate experience by matching you up with the right job. I’m a person who enjoys learning, so I’m definitely happy with my progression through this program.”

“It’s given me the ability to gain skills and valuable experience which will come in handy once I look to further my career in more advanced roles with more responsibilities. For anyone thinking of going back to school or simply changing their career, I would highly recommend this program. They are with you every step of the way,” says Rodrigo.

The support and engagement from the apprenticeship team is part of a comprehensive strategy on UCR University Extension’s part to facilitate career building and employee retention. If you would like to learn more about how the program can help you—as an employer or employee—email the team at