JVS Launches ApartmentWorks

First Group of 12 Certified Apartment Maintenance Technicians Graduate New Training Program. Three are hired at post-graduation job fair

November 20, 2014 -- The newest entry in JVS’ award-winning lineup of training programs got off to a triumphant start this week as the inaugural class of JVS ApartmentWorks received their Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT).

The first class of 12 ApartmentWorks graduates received their certificates during a ceremony at the Westside Pavilion. Immediately following the presentations, the graduates met with representatives from property management associations, many of which had job vacancies available.

Three of the graduates received job offers that same day and will start their careers as apartment maintenance technicians in the next week.

“You will set the standard for what is expected for the classes that will follow you,” JVS COO Claudia Finkel told the graduates.  “You are going to go out and have very long and successful careers in the apartment industry. You will grow to be managers and supervisors and probably come back here and hire other graduates of the program.”

“Let’s show these (employers) what we’ve got,” added graduate Jessie Nacar, addressing a roomful of program sponsors and potential employers. “Let’s show them what we learned!”

Produced in partnership with the National Apartment Association’s (NAA’s) Education Institute, the six-week ApartmentWorks program trains participants in skills ranging from plumbing, electrical, HVAC, tiling and exterior repair. Once certified, the trainees are qualified for first-step careers in the growing field of apartment maintenance. Starting hourly salaries for CAMTs are in the $14-$15 range and employees are eligible for benefits and – in some cases – for on-site housing.

The demand for qualified maintenance technicians is constant, said Melissa Reilly, a recruiter from Equity Residential which hosted ApartmentWorks students at its properties during their training. As she got to know the students, Reilly found them to be hard-working, inquisitive and full of can-do spirit as well as knowledge of how to fix a running toilet or patch drywall.

“I can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate the efforts of JVS and the NAA in putting a program like this together,” Reilly said. “This has become a really viable solution to our need.”

Instructor Jon Quach said that he saw impressive growth in the students over the course of the class. Several came to ApartmentWorks with previous experience in areas of maintenance and construction. Quach said that during the course of the class, some of the students had occasion to put their newly-learned skills to immediate practical use. One student diagnosed and repaired a broken garbage disposal in his own home.

“From the first day of class, I saw the eagerness in every student’s eyes, how they wanted to learn more about apartment maintenance and build a career in this field,” Quach said. “They have set the bar very high for the future CAMT classes.”

As is the case with students in long established JVS training programs BankWork$ and HealthWorks, ApartmentWorks recruits students who have faced significant barriers to employment such as living in extreme poverty, limited education and work experience or long term unemployment. Several have come from the foster care system or are single parents struggling to earn an independent living. Others are newly arrived immigrants who have overcome significant language and cultural barriers.

Since his last full time employment five years ago, Alex Archie had strung together a series of construction and handyman jobs. After learning about ApartmentWorks from the Employment Development Department (EDD), Archie saw the program as a gateway to steady employment.

“I had always wanted to get into the maintenance field, but I didn’t know how,” said Archie. “This program is a big help for me.”

Thanks to the support of its funders, ApartmentWorks is offered free of charge to qualified applicants. Funders include Bank of America, Chase Bank, the Marcled Foundation, the Pfaffinger Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California.

About JVS: Serving the widely diverse Southern California community, JVS Los Angeles helps people of all faiths and backgrounds overcome barriers to employment so they can become self-sufficient. Our clients include recently separated veterans, people living in poverty, at risk, foster and probation youth, the long term unemployed, people with disabilities and mature workers, as well as downsized career professionals. Our goal is to provide individuals with the tools, resources and support they need through job training, mentoring, expert career coaching, job placement and retention support. Leaders in the workforce development field and advocates for the underserved, JVS Los Angeles was founded in 1931 to fight workplace discrimination and help Jewish refugees fleeing the political upheaval in Europe to find jobs and begin new lives. Over eight decades later we are going strong with nearly 30,000 client visits each year. To learn more, visit www.jvsla.org.

November 24, 2014