RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Even though 25-year-old Desmond Roberts works with his hands as a construction apprentice, he said the job is all about numbers.

“It’s all simple mathematics that you don’t use for a very long time and then you come here and that’s your whole first year,” he said.

Roberts is training to become an electrician, enrolled in an apprenticeship program through the Associated Builders and Contractors, or ABC, of Southern California’s new Riverside facility and is getting used to doing quick math for the job.

It’s a new career for him. Roberts said he used to train horses in the Inland Empire, but after the birth of his daughter last year, he wanted to find a better-paying career.

“Without an electrician, the world really can’t go ‘round and with the green movement and everyone going solar, there is going to be a bigger demand for electricians,” he said. “I feel like that it was a trade that there is no end.”

According to ABC, the construction industry is facing a labor shortage and must hire an additional 545,000 workers this year beyond its typical pace in order to meet expected demand. The trade association reports one in four construction workers is older than 55 and there aren’t enough younger workers to replace them.

At the Riverside facility, apprentices sign up for a four-and-a-half year program as long as they’re over 17-and-a-half years old. ABC SoCal’s training and logistics president Douglas Wilson said new homes make up only a small portion of new construction and a lot of demand is coming from the push for renewable energy which includes building electric car chargers and electrical infrastructure.

“We do commercial and industry application so some of the retail spaces, hotels, hospitals, schools, public parks, medical buildings,” he said.

Wilson said the Riverside center can train roughly 25,000 apprentices a year. For apprentice Jaime Juarez, who served in the Marine Corps and was a concrete worker for 13 years before his company sponsored his electrician apprenticeship, the program is a chance to expand his skill set.

“I like being part of big projects,” he said. “It’s just wonderful to see from nothing but dirt to a big building with a nice parking lot and all that good stuff, nice lights,” he said.

Juarez hopes to start his own company one day. Roberts also has big plans of his own.

“I’m an engineering student as well, so my end game is to electrical design,” he said. “I like to design things. I make blueprints now for custom houses.”