New Workforce Requirements on Design/Build Public Works Projects DIR News, News for PHCC Members - All, Public Works Information

Recent union sponsored legislation has included a “skilled and trained workforce” requirement, which as defined in both SB 54 and SB 785 has two distinct components.

First, all construction workers are required to have graduated from an approved apprenticeship program or have the equivalent hours of experienced as an apprenticeship program in that craft (e.g. commercial plumber – 8,000 hours).

Then there is a graduated mandate that an increasing percentage of workers have in fact graduated from a state apprenticeship program – in essence – forcing out of the workforce those who would qualify under the “equivalency” provision.


SB 54 Refinery SB 785


AB 1358

school D/B[1]

AB 566


AB 1185

Best Value

January 2015 45%
January 2016 60% 20% 20% 30% 30%
January 2017 30% 30% 40% 40%
January 2018 40% 40% 50% 50%
January 2019 50% 50% 60% 60%
January 2020 60% 60% 70%


We first saw this requirement with SB 54 which applies to refinery work, by January 1, 2016 at least 60 percent of the journeypersons working for a contractor be graduates of an approved apprenticeship program is necessary to ensure that the majority of the journeypersons will have had appropriate classroom and laboratory instruction for their occupations.

This new “skilled and trained workforce” language appeared again with SB 785 that requires the use of a “skilled and trained workforce” for Public Works Design Build projects. The requirement to use a “skilled and trained workforce” beginning January 1, 2016 would be that at least begins at 20 percent of the skilled journeypersons employed to perform work on the contract or project by the entity and each of its subcontractors at every tier are graduates of an apprenticeship program for the applicable occupation that was either approved by the Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards pursuant to Section 3075 of the Labor Code or located outside California and approved for federal purposes pursuant to the apprenticeship regulations adopted by the federal Secretary of Labor. The requirement increases by 10% each January up to 60% by January 2020.

We expect this trend for a “skilled and trained” workforce will continue to expand to all public works projects and other construction.

And it is unclear what the enforcement mechanism will be or how a contractor and worker will verify the experience under the equivalency option.

[1] Still pending before legislature