LANCASTER, CALIF. (8/26/2021) – BYD and SMART Local 105 celebrated the graduation of the first two classes of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship program, a first of its kind training program in California to prepare workers for the electric vehicle revolution.
In a ceremony held at BYD’s Coach & Bus factory in Lancaster, Calif., the 20 graduates were honored for their resiliency, grit, and determination in finishing their course work in light of obstacles from the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point the pandemic had temporarily shut down the BYD factory, blocking on-the-job or “earn while you learn” portion of the program. The pandemic also forced Antelope Valley College, which hosted the classroom training, to go with virtual teaching rather than in-person teaching.
The graduates are: Alejandro Ballesteros lll, Danny Cervantes, Brook J. Connor, Raymond Dalke, Efrain Gabriel, Mathew T. Ginn, John Eugene Holland, Richard Lopez, Guillermo S. Majano, Steve McCaulin, Edward G. Mckee Jr., Sergio Carlos Orozco, Alfred Owens, Anthony A. Ramirez, Steven Reynolds, Alexander Rosena, Arturo Sanchez, Isidro Villasenor, Bartholomew Taylor, and Christopher G. Zelaya.
“These graduates persevered through difficult times and sacrificed time with family and friends in order to complete this training. Many of them were taking college courses for the first time,” said Stella Li, President of BYD North America. “This program is a win-win. Our employees gain skills that will help advance their careers. The company benefits by having skilled workers who will help improve efficiency in production and the quality of our buses and trucks. We are so proud of our graduates.”
Several dignitaries were on hand to congratulate the apprentices-turn-journeymen, including Isabelle Saber, vice president of Academic Affairs of Antelope Valley College; Lancaster Councilman Raj Malhi, Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, Palmdale Councilman Richard Loa, Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita; Christy Smith, a candidate for the 25th Congressional District and a former state Assemblywoman; and Donna Termeer, Field Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
The ceremony also included a tribute to Luis Morales, a BYD worker and member of the program who was killed in a motorcycle in September 2020.
The apprenticeship program is the result of a Community Benefits Agreement between BYD, SMART Local 105, and Jobs to Move America (JMA), a coalition of community-based groups. The agreement, first signed in 2017 and renewed in 2020, calls for creating pathways into the manufacturing industry for underrepresented and underserved populations in Los Angeles County.
Under the CBA, BYD committed to a goal of recruiting and hiring workers from populations facing significant barriers to employment, such as veterans and returning citizens. In addition, populations that have been excluded from the manufacturing industry, such as women and African Americans will also be recruited and placed.
The apprenticeship training program totals 16.5 units of college credit. Classroom work includes OSHA 10 safety training, blueprint reading, manufacturing concepts, machine trade mathematics, lean manufacturing techniques, technical memo writing skills, and emerging trends in manufacturing.
Technical training also consists of hands-on training in basic skills, precision metal work, electrical wiring and assembly of complex mechanical and electrical systems, among other skills.
The Official Sponsor of Mother Nature™, BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, is the world’s leading electric vehicle company with proven innovative technology for cars, buses, trucks, forklifts, and rail systems – like SkyRail. BYD is dedicated to creating a truly zero-emission ecosystem offering technology for solar electricity generation, energy storage to save that electricity, and battery-electric vehicles powered by that clean energy. Globally, BYD is committed to corporate social responsibility, monitoring our supply chain in terms of human rights, environmental safety, hazardous substance control and intellectual property rights. We select only suppliers who share our commitment to labor practices, human rights standards and the environment.BYD has 220,000 employees across the globe, including nearly 1,000 in North America. For more information, please visit www.BYD.com or follow BYD on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.Contact: Jim Skeen/media relations specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org/661-436-0513.