Katerra, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company merging technology and off-site construction methods for various housing types, announced this morning the launch of a proprietary, accredited trade skills apprenticeship program.
"In looking at other available skills training programs, we could not find a high enough overlap (of skills)," that would suit Katerra's off-site design, manufacturing, and assembly process, says Samantha Rist, the company's Head of Self Perform in an interview with Professional Builder's editor-in-chief, Rich Binsacca, yesterday.
Katerra partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to accredit is coursework, initially encompassing carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC trades. "By partnering with NCCR, it allows folks who already have some skills to test up to halfway through our apprenticeship programs," Rist says, thus getting them into the field faster.
Katerra also registered with and gained approval by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, allowing credentials earned through its programs to be recognized nationwide and in three U.S. territories. "When someone gets to journeyman level (in our program), they are allowed to test (for licensure) in any state," Rist says, enabling Katerra to deploy graduates who want to stay with the company to projects across multiple states.
"There is such a dearth of construction trade talent in the industry today, so this was first and foremost the right thing to do to meet the changing competencies needed for our processes," and others in the industry, Rist says, adding that the program is a "three to five-year play" requiring up to 8,000 of classroom and in-field training to achieve journeyman status.
To date, Katerra has conducted two, week-long "boot camps" with about 20 students each, an initial introductory and qualifying step for the full apprenticeship program.