Industry Job-Training Bill Passes California Assembly

The California Assembly has voted 73-0 to approve legislation that would boost funding for entertainment industry job-training programs. The bill, which now goes to the state Senate, would increase funding by $1 million to train high schoolers and community college students for below-the-line jobs. The bill, AB 1664, was introduced by Assemblymen Ian Calderon and Raul Bocanegra.

The additional funding would expand current apprenticeship programs run by IATSE members at West Los Angeles Community College, where students learn specialized craft and trade skills from industry professionals. The current tax incentives program requires credit recipients to participate in a career-based learning program developed by the Film Commission and statewide education agencies.

“These job-training programs help train our youth and ease them in their transition into employment in the entertainment industry,” said Thom Davis, 2nd Vice President of IATSE, who noted that the state’s film tax credit “has increased union membership, and it is vital that members have the proper training on the movie set.”

Said Bocanegra, the Assembly’s Democratic majority whip who represents part of the San Fernando Valley: “When I authored the film tax credit, the most important thing that I focused on was returning good-paying jobs to California and stimulating our local economies, where filming takes place. However, since the program has proven successful, and jobs have returned to the Golden State, we need to make sure we have a well-trained workforce ready to assume those jobs.”

Said Calderon of Whittier, the Assembly’s majority leader: “AB 1664 will provide the next generation much-needed opportunities to access job training and development programs and ultimately help them become part of a thriving middle class. While maintaining and increasing film production in California is essential to our economy, it’s critical that we prepare our youth to take on these good paying, middle-class jobs in the entertainment industry.”

Since the implementation of the state’s new $330-million-a-year film tax credit program in 2014, more than 15,000 Californians have been employed as behind-the-camera crew members on film and TV productions throughout the state, to the tune of $1.1 billion in qualified wages.

The bill states, “It is the intent of the Legislature to establish and provide for a coordinated effort between the film and television industry, institutions of higher education, and other entities, including union training programs, to enhance the availability and quality of programs which promote film and television industry craft training and education, and thereby enhance the availability and competence of the work force for supporting the industry.

“In order to facilitate program coordination and alignment with other industry-specific workforce training, education, and employment services, the California Film Commission shall develop a workforce development program that is consistent with the Career Readiness requirement…of the Revenue and Taxation Code.”

Bocanegra’s office said that there are two funding options for the program: through the state’s general fund or from an Employment Training Panel, which is self-funded through unemployment insurance taxes.

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