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WECA Member Bergelectric, Apprentice David Thomas Featured by California Apprenticeship Council

Content courtesy of the CAC


Veteran and WECA Commercial Apprentice David Thomas, During a Deployment in Iraq.

Faced with a shortage of field employees and a limited number of new apprentices getting into the trade, Bergelectric Corporation launched an aggressive plan in 2005 to hire as many veterans as they could. "Being surrounded by military bases made this possible; Southern California sees 30,000 veterans get released from active duty every year and not all find work," explains Frank Boecker, HR Manager for Bergelectic.

Bergelectric has other reasons to hire veterans. "The military has done a wonderful job in preparing their veterans for the civilian world. They return with incredible work ethics, high standards, and the desire to get the job done," says Boecker. "Our goal has been to hire at least one veteran a week." Bergelectric's efforts to hire veterans have been so successful that in 2011 the State of California Employment Development department awarded Bergelectric "Employer of the Year."

Boecker mentions David Thomas, Bergelectric employee and WECA apprentice, as an example of one of the outstanding veterans they've recruited. Thomas' transition from military life to apprenticeship was serendipitous. "Four months after discharge, I met a gentleman in the electrical aisle at Home Depot," Thomas says. "His son had just entered boot camp and had the same occupation I had in the military. As we conversed, he asked me whether I'd be interested in a position with Bergelectric and an apprenticeship. Three days later, Frank Boecker called. Because I was already attending Miramar College, he said that WECA would be the best option for me. He was absolutely correct. The smaller class sizes allow me to have more one-on-one time with the instructors. And attending apprenticeship classes every six months allows me to still attend night classes at college."

"Bergelectric eased my transition from military to civilian life," Thomas continues. "After being with Berg for only 6 months, I was recalled into the military to deploy again for another 8. Berg was very understanding about the matter. Working for Berg, I'm still able to give to back to the Marine Corps. Currently I'm working on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, building the new Naval Hospital. It's the greatest feeling to help build a hospital for the marines and sailors that you served beside."

Bergelectric attends numerous local careers fairs focused on hiring veterans. They also partner with EDD, Veterans Village of San Diego and Marine Corps family service. Boecker adds, "We work very closely with WECA, AGC, and ABC to train these veterans. With the help of Veterans Village, they get everything they need to start their new career, from tools to work clothes; all are paid for by the Call of Duty Endowment started by the video game manufacturer to support our veterans."

"I am privileged by Bergelectric's willingness to support these veterans," Boecker says in closing. "I served in the armed services myself and feel a duty and responsibility towards them. Almost every day I have a new veteran in my office talking about opportunities in apprenticeship and their new career as a Bergelectric employee." 

See article on page 10 of the CAC Apprenticeship Second Quarter 2012 Newsletter: http://www.dir.ca.gov/CAC/ReportsPublications/CACNewsletter2ndQuarter2012.pdf

Has David's story gotten you interested in becoming a Commercial Apprentice too? Learn more about WECA's Commercial Apprenticeship Program and how to apply HERE