Apprenticeships 101 Blog Series: Affiliates taking the first steps

Our commitment to continuing to ensure that Latino job seekers have an effective alternative to access family-sustaining jobs and career advancement opportunities has driven us to promote apprenticeships. This is the second piece in our blog series where we highlight our Affiliate, SERJobs, which has already taken the first steps. 

At UnidosUS, we are proud to share the efforts and achievements of our Affiliate SERJobs in the apprenticeship subject, uplifting opportunities for Latino equity in the workforce.  

SERJobs’ Pre-Apprenticeship Training 

SERJobs provides spaces for potential apprentices to practice through their pre-apprenticeship training. Credits: SERJobs

Through SERJobs’ mission-driven platforms, the organization centers a huge part of its efforts on creating employment opportunities for young and adult job seekers in Houston, Texas. One successful route to produce these opportunities is through their pre-apprenticeship training.  

Keep up with the latest from UnidosUS

Sign up for the weekly UnidosUS Action Network newsletter delivered every Thursday.

Today, SERJobs offers pre-apprenticeship training for seven in-demand industries, including electrician, information communications, and phlebotomy career related. 

For Alma Silva, SERJobs’ chief innovation + strategy officer, it is essential to understand the organization’s role in apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship training. While the concept of ‘apprenticeship’ can sound like a complicated process, SERJobs serves as a channel to best prepare its members to become the ideal candidates to enter and succeed in an apprenticeship program. “If you are someone looking to study phlebotomy but can’t afford to, here you can gain the right skills and receive guidance at zero debt through our training,” Silva said.  

“At SERJobs, you are very lucky because our training is tuition-free, so not only do you have the opportunity to acquire funds, but also learning and networking experiences. We are building upon Houston workforce industry.” 

A Successful Pathway 

SERJobs’ pre-apprenticeship training focuses on in-demand industries such as electrician and mechanical-related careers. Credits: SERJobs

Apprenticeships should be a well-known route for all young and adult job seekers, especially for the Latino community.  

“I was born on the other side of the border, later on, came here (U.S.), and my parents alone were working 2-3 jobs,” Silva said. “Most of our minority members manage multiple jobs and are hard-working.” 

“Many think the American Dream is to graduate from college. But it is important to recognize that not everyone has the resources to attend college. Sadly, the education system got rid of vocational programs because their goal was college branded, ‘everyone should attend college.’ That’s not necessarily the case. Some of us have different talents, and we should make sure to continue to nurture them.” 

Silva assured us that this is a successful way to become a professional and that the job seeker’s achievement will ultimately be determined by their passion and strength to accomplish those goals. 

Why Employers Should Enter a Registered Apprenticeship

SERJob’s Director of Training, Courtney Mixon, also pointed out the importance of SERJobs’ role in leveraging the benefits of apprenticeships to employers. “Another part of our job is to get employers to understand why they should enter into a registered apprenticeship versus hiring and on-the-job training. (On-the-job training) is less detailed. Members who complete their registered apprenticeship program get a national credential that aligns with that area of expertise,” Mixon said.  

“Members get classroom training, mentoring, and coaching. So, this is a more robust process than just on-the-job training.” Through an apprenticeship program, employers not only develop highly skilled employees but also create a supportive and positive environment in their respective workplaces and consequently, impacting the community.  

Mixon added that another effort to leverage employers is by facilitating paid work experience. For example, suppose an employer takes the chance to get into a registered apprenticeship. In that case, through SERJobs’ grant funds, they have the capability of paying part of their apprentices’ salaries for the first months to take off an additional worry from that employer. Moreover, they also offer their members additional assets while preparing to enter an apprenticeship program. 

“We provide career coaches, we offer support services (toolkits) for our members, so they can hit the ground successfully,” Mixon said. 

Giving Back to the Community

Participant practices during phlebotomy training. Credits: SERJobs

“We call the people we serve ‘members.’ They are part of our family, they come back to give their testimonies,” Mixon said. She described that most of the time, their members are surprised to know they do not have to pay for any of the pre-apprenticeship training they receive and the various employment opportunities that come ahead after completion. 

“We are proud to have served roughly more than 500 individuals this year.” 

Through SERJobs, Silva and Mixon ensure that when supporting the community, they are also breaking the stigma about not affording a college education and a high-sacrificed lifestyle that most immigrants carry in our country.   

“Our youth must get out of that mindset of ‘I’m not good enough if I do not go to college’; the contrary, this is another route,” Silva said. “We can also break that cycle of mom and dad working 2 jobs when we have a good foundation, a good career pathway to continue and move forward. Si se puede.” 

If you want to learn more about SERJobs and their work with apprenticeships, click here 

Stay tuned for upcoming publications in this blog series.


Written By: Jorge Flores

You might also be interested in: