The Inland Empire Black Worker Center (IEBWC) has taken significant strides to address the jobs crisis in the Inland Empire, where Black workers face the highest unemployment rates and lowest median earnings. The IEBWC has collaborated with IEWorks to offer a transformative pre-apprenticeship program aimed at preparing Black workers for high-road jobs in the water/wastewater sector. The program prioritizes respect and dignity while providing stability, living wages, and career paths for families. The workforce development model consists of internships for college students, pre-apprenticeships for newcomers to the trades, and apprenticeship programs. Education partners include San Bernardino Valley College and Mt. San Jacinto College.
IEWorks is a consortium of water/wastewater utilities and community groups dedicated to strengthening the water/wastewater workforce in the Inland Empire. With substantial funding from the US Department of Education and the CA High Road Training Partnership, IEWorks partners with JVS and BAYWORK to leverage their success and best practices.
“IEWorks is a great example of how JVS is replicating best practices in new regions, like the Inland Empire,” says JVS’s Senior Manager of Partnership Impact Elizabeth Toups.
The results of the program have been promising, as highlighted in the report “Unlocking Potential: The Inland Empire Black Worker Center’s Transformative IEWorks Program” by the UCLA Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity (CARE) at Work. Since March 2022, 23 participants from two pre-apprenticeship cohorts have completed the program, with 50% of them securing full-time jobs or internships in the water sector a year after graduation. The program boasts an impressive 95% completion rate, emphasizing the success of the IEBWC’s community-centered approach to workforce development, which includes dignified and democratic community involvement, wrap-around services, and strategic partnerships. The report underscores the need for continued investment in Black worker center-anchored workforce development programs and recommends developing a clear pathway to full employment for program participants and securing non-restrictive funds to increase stipends and support services, enabling broader access to the program for those facing financial constraints.