Phoenix Public Works Launches Apprenticeship Program

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 11:13am
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 11:14am
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(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Public Works Department)
Phoenix solid waste equipment operators service approximately 395,000 households.
Phoenix Public Works Department
A Phoenix solid waste equipment operator prepares to start his collection route.

When the city of Phoenix and Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 777, reached a deal last year, the contract called for something new: apprenticeship programs. The city’s public works department will begin a pilot program for solid waste equipment operators next month.

During a city subcommittee meeting last December, Deputy Public Works Director Felipe Moreno told members, “We’re going to be bringing in people who have zero experience with operating big trucks and so we’re going to focus a lot on teaching them one, how to operate those trucks but then two, how to really learn about how to be safe and then focusing in on the business of solid waste on our operation.”

The first class of six will come from within the city. Moreno said they want to make sure the model is perfected before bringing in external candidates.

The program’s first year involves apprentices getting their commercial drivers’ licenses, studying policies and procedures and working in the field.

“We have a diverse environment out there, alleys are tough, the curbs are tough, cul-de-sacs, things like that, and, so we have a lot of different types of equipment: rear load, side load, collection vehicles,” Moreno said. “And, so we want to make sure they’re comfortable in everything we do.”

The second year, they’ll be assigned work regions while staying in touch with mentors.

Public works plans to use existing staff to cover the program with recruitment focusing on young people, women and veterans.

The city’s parks and recreation department is also working on a gardener apprenticeship program to begin early next year.