Los Angeles contractors and electrical workers have created an apprenticeship program to train military veterans for careers in the electrical industry.

The joint effort of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the Los Angeles County National Electrical Contractors Association picked and funded 23 veterans in the Electricians Inside Wireman Apprenticeship Program.

The free, five-year program offers an hourly rate of $15.44, plus full benefits, for apprentices who must work full-time and attend school. After graduation, they will earn $38.60 per hour, plus benefits, the union said.

The program represents a $40,000 investment in each enrollee and is paid for by the private sector, officials said.

“When America’s heroes, who bravely wear the uniform of the United States, return home from wars abroad, they should not have to struggle to find a job,” said Marvin Kropke, business manager of IBEW Local 11.

“More importantly, they shouldn’t be living on the streets,” he said. “Instead, their sacrifices should be rewarded. We are ecstatic to be pioneering this program as a way of thanking these brave individuals for their invaluable service to our country.”