PHOENIX (KSAZ) - When you hear the term "collecting waste," you may not think of an exciting career and that's exactly why Mayor Greg Stanton says the launch of the Phoenix Public Works Apprenticeship Program for Solid Waste Equipment Operators is needed.
"Yes, there's a negative stereotype that we're dealing with and yes, we're trying to fix that by bringing a lot of new people to the table," he said.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined Phoenix city officials to launch the program similar to the one that he helped establish in the city by the bay.
"You know, as I've had the privilege of being the director of public works in the past, one of the things when you work alongside people who pick up garbage every day and get graffiti out of the walls and clean the streets and ally ways, the one word that comes to mind is 'respect,'" he said.
Mayor Lee added it may not be the most glamorous job, but it's critical for the functionality of large cities.
"Respect for the very people who allow us to do our jobs, we can't be mayors of any great city unless we have people who are doing the real labor," he said.
Aimed at hiring women, youths and veterans, the program will train candidates for their commercial driver's license, ultimately collecting waste for nearly 400,000 residents.
To anyone who questions the importance of the job, Major Stanton says he's tried the equipment and was extremely impressed.
"I just did it!" he exclaimed. "That is, the truck over there has more electronic and computer equipment on it than almost anything else I've seen. It's more like driving an airplane than it is driving a truck."