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SFMTA: Paving the Way to Quality Jobs in Transit through Apprenticeships

March 4, 2024

Maurice smiling
Maurice became a Machinist with SFMTA after completing the pre-apprentice program run in partnership with JVS.

The partnership between JVS and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has been instrumental in providing training and career opportunities in the public transit sector, highlighting the importance of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training programs. This partnership began in 2019 when SFMTA, in collaboration with City College and IAMAW Local 1414, obtained state funding to create a pre-apprenticeship training program leading to apprentice positions in critical need occupations. JVS became a crucial partner in this initiative, helping to develop a job readiness training curriculum and provide outreach and supportive services to participants. 

Apprenticeships in the public transit sector lead to good-paying, full-time, meaningful employment with benefits and retirement plans, contributing to job quality, stability, and advancement. These roles often come with union membership, granting employees a stronger collective worker voice.

The cohort-based training program, running twice a year, includes technical instruction delivered by City College, paid on-the-job training provided by SFMTA, and job readiness training provided by JVS. The program provides an onramp for local residents to quality career opportunities in the trades, while providing SFMTA, and other transit employers, with a pipeline of talent. Margot Reed, SFMTA Apprenticeship Manager, who passed away in Spring 2023, played a pivotal role in driving the program’s success, advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion within SFMTA, and emphasizing the need for a more diverse, highly skilled workforce. 

“The partnership with SFMTA has been instrumental in opening the door to opportunities and advancing careers in the transit sector,” shared Elizabeth Toups, Senior Partnership Impact Manager at JVS. “It’s more than collaboration; it’s a commitment to building a workforce that mirrors the richness of our community.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily interrupted the partnership as SFMTA paused the recruitment of apprentices due to changing circumstances in the public transportation sector. However, the training programs continued, and new cohorts were established, showcasing the importance of investing in careers in transit. Since 2019, 113 individuals participated in 9 cycles of automotive pre-apprenticeship training, resulting in 65 employment placements. 

The partnership with SFMTA continues to serve as an example of successful collaboration between JVS and public sector employers. The partnership’s success can be attributed to the collaboration between employers, community colleges, unions, and community organizations including Golden Gate Transit, City College of SF, IAMAW Local 1414, the Port of SF, the City & County of SF, Tradeswomen Inc, Bayview YMCA, Construction Trades Workforce Initiative, and others. These programs not only benefit participants but also highlight the importance of public transit as a vital social and economic resource for the community.

“Our partnership with JVS is rooted in our shared belief in the power of apprenticeships, recognizing them as a pivotal force in fostering skills and empowerment. Together, we’re driving towards a future of inclusive success and shared prosperity.”

– Julie Kirshbaum, SFMTA’S Director of Transit

Our SFMTA partnership story first appeared in our 2023 Impact Report. Go to to read the report and learn more about our work.