Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Veterans Transition Smoothly with WECA

When Brian Alston’s contract with the Marines was up, he knew what he wanted next for his career. Returning to his long-held desire to be an electrician, he became an indentured apprentice for Bergelectric Corporation, and chose the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), Inc.’s Commercial Electrician Apprenticeship program for its convenient “two weeks, twice a year” classroom format. Alston was a successful apprentice, passing the entry exams “with flying colors” and completing WECA’s five year program while continually employed with Bergelectric, a WECA member contractor with offi ces across California. Of WECA's electrician apprentice coursework, he says he most enjoyed the hands-on labs, particularly being able to “experiment with different ways that may or may not work, being able to ask why it didn't work. I think that taught me more than learning from the book."

Brian Alston,Vet and WECA Grad

Alston thrived at Bergelectric, and says that the company serves to this day as his model for how an electrical company should be run. “They taught me so much I wouldn’t be able to tell you it all with one page,” he says. The best way to run an electrical company is of particular interest to Brian. Since graduating from WECA’s Commercial Electrician Apprenticeship program, Class of ’11, he has acquired his C-10 Contractor’s License and started his own company, “My Electrician Inc.” Alston’s new company is doing well and he has plans for its future growth, applying the same drive, inquisitiveness, and problem-solving ethos to his new endeavour that he evidenced as an apprentice electrician.

David Thomas is another veteran, Bergelectric employee, and WECA apprentice. Thomas’ transition from military life to apprenticeship with WECA was serendipitous. “Four months after discharge, I met a gentleman in the electrical aisle at Home Depot,” Thomas explains. “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 (of Bergelectric) 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.” Only 6 months into his new career, Thomas was recalled into the military to deploy again—this time, for another 8 months. But luckily, Thomas says, Bergelectric was very understanding, and “Working for Berg, I’m still able to give to back to the Marine Corps.” Thomas’ new deployment was at 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.”

Many of WECA’s member contractors have found veterans of the United States Armed Forces to make great additions to their teams, and WECA has structures in place to support veterans. “Veterans in our apprenticeship programs can receive G.I. Bill Benefits, and WECA happily accommodates active military leaves,” explains Christine Hall, Training Director for WECA. “I’ve spoken with member contractors who have hired veterans and they have always been very happy with their performance as employees and in our apprenticeship programs,” she says. WECA attends job fairs focused on veterans, including the EDD’s upcoming “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” and the Department of Veteran Affair’s “Service Members, Veterans, and Families- Sacramento Job and Resource Fair.”

Known for high-quality training, excellent employment placement with member contractors, high graduation rates, and up-todate labs and curriculum, WECA’s three electrical apprenticeship programs (Commercial, Residential, and Voice Data Video) are in high demand among potential apprentices, veterans and non-veterans alike. “WECA is an exemplary organization committed to high-quality apprenticeship training in California and has been instrumental in supporting and enhancing the State’s electrician certifi cation program. Their training and education is without a doubt, among the finest in California,“ says David Rowan, Former Chief, California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS). According to the latest statistics from the DAS, WECA is the second largest electrical apprenticeship program in California, with 586 current apprentices and the second-highest number of graduates over the span of the past six years. Besides apprenticeship programs, the Western Electrical Contractors Association off ers convenient online journeyman continuing education classes, a blended-learning Electrician Trainee program that combines online instruction with in-person, hands-on electrical labs, and of course, extensive benefi ts and services for electrical contractors.

Have Brian and David's stories gotten you interested in becoming an apprentice too? Learn more about WECA's Apprenticeship Programs and how to apply HERE