|Commercial Enterprises will need carpenters for jobs on reservation and elsewhere
builder has entered into an agreement with the Navajo Nation to include Navajo young people in the company's carpentry
apprenticeship program. Commercial Enterprises Inc. agreed to sign on as many as twenty-five apprentices because
the company expects to do several projects on the reservation, said Chuck Cambron, apprenticeship coordinator.
But the five-year-old
company also is investing the time in its apprenticeship program as a recruitment effort, he said. "We just
know that having a training program will help us in the future," Cambron said. "Any company in today's
market needs to be preparing young people, to continue to have a strong work force."
One of the objectives
of the apprenticeship program is to fully integrate Navajo builders into the company's permanent work force, he
said. The high unemployment rate on the Navajo reservation was an important factor in the company's decision to
enter into the agreement with the tribe, Cambron said.
press officer Mellor Willie said unemployment has reached 58.4 percent.
is training thirteen apprentices, seven of them Navajos, who are helping to build the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the
Santa Ana Pueblo. More apprentices will be needed to do two health centers on the Arizona portion of the reservation,
and Commercial anticipates several larger projects, Cambron said.
will receive up to $15 an hour during their training.
deputy director of human resources Harold M. Bahe said programs such as Commercial's fit into the tribe's long-term
goal of self-sufficiency for the Navajo work force. "We don't have any real significant private-sector development
taking place right now," Bahe said. "We have to resort to off-reservation job opportunities whenever
Kelsey Begaye wants to establish relationships specifically with off-reservation companies that provide training,
While most contractors
bring in their own workers on jobs, Cambron said, Commercial would be willing to use a 100 percent Navajo work
force for the reservation projects.
must be at least 18 years old. They learn to do metal framing, drywall hanging and finishing, and welding. By the
end of the 27-month training period, which includes 144 hours of classroom study, apprentices will be certified
as journeymen by the U.S. Department of Labor, Cambron said. The certification card is recognized throughout the
United States but is issued by the state government.
of apprenticeship programs are a provision of the Job Training Partnership Act that is ending this year, as well
as its replacement, the Workforce Investment Act, said Elicia Castellano with the state Department of Labor.
Under the Job
Training Partnership Act, the Navajo Nation must report to the state Department of Labor, which in turn reports
to the state Workforce Development Board, a financial oversight board. With the Workforce Investment Act, the Navajo
Nation requested to report directly to the U.S. Department of Labor, Castellano said. The Navajos will administer
the programs under the act on the reservation.