Those in the apprenticeship are able to go to school and get on-the-job training. Ryan Gimeno has spent the last 2 and half years working toward a career as an electrician.
“It’s always in demand [and] it's always ever-changing. You always learn something new,” Gimeno said.
Right now, he has class once a week and works for a company that gives him hands-on experience and pays his tuition.
This year, the program is partnering with the Parade of Lights by letting students like Gimeno build and design the newest float -- an ice castle covered with bright lights.
“We kind of had a general ideal of what they wanted, which was an ice palace and we knew we wanted it to glow and light up and be beautiful,” Gimeno said.
The apprenticeship is not just building floats; it's a four-year program that requires each student to put in 8,000 work hours before getting certified.
Organizers say the apprenticeship takes four years because they don’t want to fast-track the program due to the safety measures involved.
Gimeno says he came into the program very green and not knowing much about the program or the job.
Now, more than halfway through the apprenticeship, he's one of the masterminds behind the construction of the newest float in the parade and he knows this is just the beginning.
“You are in every single part of everyday life in every building, even in cars you can't run without electricity,” Gimeno said.
He says the process is long and the work is not easy, but knowing he will have a career when he’s finished makes it all worth it.
“It’s pretty cool it makes me pretty proud every time I see the work that everybody has put in it all together,” Gimeno added.
The apprenticeship started six years ago with 570 participants. Now, it has more than 1,600 people enrolled.
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