Story and photo by Carlos Ochoa/Staff Writer/@carlosochoaLBCC
The construction trades teacher at PCC voiced concern over the future of the construction programs at LBCC on Tuesday, March 29.
Javier Rivera instructs classes such as cabinet making, carpentry and horticulture at the PCC and said he is concerned about the state of education in the field due to the discontinuation of the construction program and degrees in 2013.
On Wednesday, March 30, during Rivera’s morning blueprint class, student Lise Carter, 59, said, “I come from an administrative background and I want hands-on and more in-depth experience. These classes are helping me do that.”
Along with the negativity she said she thinks the field receives, another obstacle she said she faces is being a woman in the field.
“In the media, the earning potential is talked about for people with degrees in non-infrastructural jobs, but not everyone is outfitted for those jobs. It doesn’t mean they are less intelligent, their passions are simply somewhere else.”
Heberto Trahin, 19, an undecided major, said, “These classes don’t get the credit they deserve. There are a variety of students who come here. People think these jobs are easy and undesirable, but to be honest, not everyone has what it takes to do these jobs, you have to love doing it.”
Rivera said, “These classes are now only for personal enhancement,” referring to the class credits that no longer contribute toward a major.
He said he blames the removal of the construction program on improper economic decisions from college officials. He also said an “outside job” carries a negative connotation when high school and college counselors discuss careers with students.
Rivera said, “People don’t realize there is a huge construction boom, where more people are retiring than being hired, which is creating a gap in jobs needed here in Long Beach.”
With the Project Labor Agreement from the Long Beach Port, a certain percentage of jobs must come from Long Beach, which Rivera used to ridicule the statistics, which administrators used to justify the halting of the program in 2013.
He said, “I don’t know where they did their research. Labor statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor showed a rebound of workers. It was a total mistake.”
He said inquiries from the port within the last six months would justify the continuation of a program that would create jobs.
Rivera has taken initiatives such as submitting a proposal for a new construction technology and management program to replace the discontinued program.
The advice Rivera gives for to students pursuing a career in a trade is, “There is a lot of miscommunication when it comes to employment in trades. Make sure you do your research.”