Authored By: MARTIN J. WALSH on AUGUST 18, 2014
This blog was originally posted to the Department of Labor
Official Blog Page on August 18, 2014
Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
As a young man, I followed my father’s footsteps and became a laborer. Later, when I became the General Agent of the Boston Building Trades, I could see clearly that women and people of color were underrepresented in the trades. In partnership with other community stakeholders, I created the Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program to create more opportunities like those my father and I enjoyed, because I know that apprenticeship is one of the most effective paths for people looking to reach the middle class.
Building Pathways is a 6-week program that introduces women and people of color to careers in the building trades, followed by a guaranteed placement into an apprenticeship program. The intensive program is a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on occupational skills training, with a strong emphasis on career readiness. To date, 103 people have graduated and been placed in 17 trades.
One of them is Tyiesha Thompson, a resident of South Boston and a single mother. When I met her, Tyiesha was receiving transitional assistance and looking for work. She needed more than a job to take care of her family; she needed a career. When she found a flyer for the program in the hallway of her housing development, she knew it would be the right course for her.
Tyiesha is now going into her third year of apprenticeship with the Heating and Frost Insulators. Not only is she learning more about the technical aspects of her trade, she is able to take care of her family and has stopped receiving public assistance. This fall her son will be attending his first year of college at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to study biology. She is confident that with her retirement benefits, she will not have to worry about who will take care of her in old age.
The key to the success of Building Pathways is that we created partnerships with the Boston Housing Authority and the participating trade unions. It was their steadfast belief that by creating this pre-apprenticeship pipeline, they could attract qualified and dedicated members of their trade, while providing an opportunity for low-income women and people of color to build careers. Leaders across the country can use this model to look for opportunities to partner with other public, private and nonprofit organizations to find mutually beneficial solutions.
As I look across the Boston skyline, I see cranes in every direction. It is an exciting time - Boston is growing smartly at a rapid rate, as we are creating housing and office towers and opening new shops and restaurants. Behind all of these cranes and new shiny developments, however, I also see the hardworking people who come to the job site every day. People like my father and Tyiesha Thompson. These good construction jobs are helping middle class families put food on the table, purchase homes, and send their children to school. By working together, we can ensure a strong middle class and put the American Dream in reach for people across the country.
Working with the Obama administration on initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper, and with other urban American mayors on the Cities of Opportunity Task Force, we are looking at ways to scale this program, and transfer it to other industries. We ask you to help us with this. By creating a strong 21st-century workforce and by creating good jobs, we will grow the middle class. And a strong middle class builds a strong country.
For more information on the Building Pathways program, call 617-282-2242.
This blog has been cross-posted from the
by Charissa Raynor and Johan E. Uvin
- See more at: http://myseiubenefits.org/#sthash.tlxyaMmH.dpuf
The U.S. workforce is in crisis. Today, 36 million adults in our country are considered low-skilled. This means about 1 in 6 American adults lack the ability to spell, read, and write and about 1 in 3 lack the ability to do basic math. These are the basic skills that 21st century employers need as they look to fill millions of current job vacancies. Meanwhile, the majority of working adults with low skills earn meager wages with little to no pathways for career advancement into the middle class. The skills gap also has serious social and economic implications for an individual’s overall quality of life. Adults with low skills are also four times more likely to report poor to fair health than those with higher skills. Needless to say, the economic consequences for our country are significant.
These alarming statistics are a call to action for government, business, labor, industry, and nonprofit leaders. This effort requires bold leadership, shared investment, and a strong commitment to adopting high-impact solutions at all levels of the public and private sector. As the first of a two-part blog discussion, we pose a set of questions to keep in mind as we come together to address the needs of America’s adult education and workforce development systems.
1. How do we re-think “who’s part of the team” in creating opportunities for current and future workers to improve their skills and put them to use in their next level job? We need to rethink and subsequently, transform current “skills building infrastructure” beyond traditional adult basic education classes. Currently, federal and state partnerships invest roughly 2.2 billion in resources to address the skills crisis. This means opportunity for only 2 million of the 36 million who need help. This is why government, business, labor, education, and workforce development communities share a joint responsibility for skills development. None of us can solve the crisis alone; we need everyone on the team. All of these sectors stand to benefit from better skills – as do workers themselves. These collective efforts must focus on shared goals and outcomes by incentivizing action and outcomes in ways that benefit everyone involved.
2. How can technology play a role in raising skills so skills can pay the bills? Expanding access to tens of millions of working adults requires not only leveraging new and existing resources, but also reducing the cost of delivery. Technology is perhaps the top strategy in cost reduction. Here we mean not only costs of delivery, but opportunity costs for working adults themselves. Today, technology exists that allows adults to learn any time, any place, and at their own pace with demonstrable reduction in costs and time to complete, while maintaining or improving learning outcomes. Learning optimized for mobile devices is widely available as are the mobile devices themselves, which are virtually ubiquitous even among low-skilled workers. Technology has the added, but often overlooked benefit, of creating unprecedented transparency into the data of learning, which will accelerate systems improvements needed to rapidly innovate for higher impact. We now need to apply and scale the use of learning technology to open the doors of access to millions more than are served today.
3. How can Registered Apprenticeships pave the way for workers to move from endless low-paying jobs to better-paying, middle-class jobs? Registered Apprenticeships and other formal models where adults “earn and learn” are an under-utilized solution. Most low-skill adults are working and must continue working to put food on the table and pay the bills. Often, that leaves little time for learning. This is where Registered Apprenticeships come in. It is a proven model for building a skilled workforce through on-the-job training and classroom learning. Understanding its value, President Obama wants to double Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in five years. This commitment brings new resources and solutions to our skills crisis, but also raises questions about what an apprenticeship is and how it works for many. Today’s modernized Registered Apprenticeship is not just for the traditional trades. Programs exist in nearly every industry, including health care, IT and advanced manufacturing, and hold enormous promise for expanding access and opportunity for women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. Modernization also brings competency-based apprenticeships, which measure student progress by demonstration of competencies rather than hours spent inside a classroom. As President Obama recently emphasized, modernized Registered Apprenticeship programs offer real opportunity, which is what all hard working Americans want and deserve.
Today’s workforce crisis is our shared challenge, opportunity, and responsibility. We can’t rely just on government or employers or labor or “you.” We need everyone “in” to get the job done. New technologies, a revamped adult education system, and 21st century modernized Registered Apprenticeships will help get us there. We have the tools and the resources to define our future instead of being defined by our past. What we need now is leadership, commitment, and investment to move high impact solutions rapidly. Are you “in?"
Charisaa Raynor has served as a member of the Secretary of Labor's Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship. Johan E. Uvin has been a key contributor and partner in the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to establish the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium, developed to enable graduates of Registered Apprenticeship to receive college credit toward an associate or bachelor degree for work and education completed during their rigorous on-the-job and classroom training.
Unprecedented Investment in Apprenticeship
by Secretary Tom Perez on December 11, 2014
Jessica Cunningham started off on the path we traditionally see as the “right path” – graduating from high school and going off to college. But she quickly realized that the courses she was taking weren’t leading her in the right direction – and on top of that, it was a major strain on her finances. That all changed when she discovered the Urban Technology Project.
A partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and the Communities in Schools of Philadelphia, UTP offers a unique opportunity to connect young people with hands on learning opportunities through a computer support specialist registered apprenticeship program. The apprentices receive work-based training and gain industry-recognized credentials in information technology while earning solid wages. As Jessica told me:
“The program allowed me to gain real career experience from professional mentors. I did not know that software development was a passion of mine until the program introduced me to two experienced developers and gave me capacity to learn from them.”
Secretary Perez and Jessica Cunningham
Shortly after her training, Jessica was hired as a program
manager at Jarvus Innovations, a Philadelphia-based mobile and web software
development firm. Today, as Jarvus’ Director of Operations, Jessica makes a
good salary and has a vibrant career ahead of her.
Jessica’s apprenticeship helped her punch her ticket to the middle class – it’s why I like to call apprenticeships “the other 4-year degree.” The Labor Department’s Registered Apprenticeships are a tried and true earn-while-you-learn training model that offers hands-on training and classroom education — all without incurring any debt. In fact, research shows that the average apprenticeship graduate earns a starting salary of $50,000 and will earn $300,000 more over the course of their career than their peers who don’t complete an apprenticeship.
As I travel around the country, I hear from employers who are bullish about the economy and want to grow their business — but need a pipeline of skilled talent to make it happen. Though currently underutilized in the United States, apprenticeship programs can play a valuable role in creating those pipelines. Partnerships like UTP are a great example of how apprenticeships can be used to meet the growing needs of employers.
That’s why I’m proud to announce the formal launch of the $100 million American Apprenticeship Grant competition. This is the largest single federal investment in apprenticeship ever in the U.S. And it will help transform our workforce for the 21st century.
Through this grant, the department will expand apprenticeships from the traditional skilled trades to new high-tech, high-demand industries like healthcare, IT, advanced manufacturing, and others. These grants will help programs that create career pathways and align with post-secondary education – so apprenticeships are never an either/or proposition between starting out on an exciting career path and getting an education. And the grants will encourage strong public-private partnerships to ensure these apprenticeships are sustainable for the long run.
Apprenticeships are essential to building tomorrow’s workforce and strengthening the middle class, like it did for Jessica. By working together — by adapting and transforming the model to 21st century realities — we can make this tool more effective than ever.
For more information on how to apply for an American
Apprenticeship Grant, visit www.grants.gov.
For additional information and resources related to the American Apprenticeship Grants, also visit http://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/grants.htm
Today is Veteran’s Day and Lisa Ford, Marine Corps veteran and Project Manager at Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) is introducing us to an Air Force Veteran who is so extraordinary that her Apprenticeship Coordinator, Dave Frangione, contacted H2H directly to make sure that H2H was aware of the value she is bringing to the trades.
Magan (whose given name is Victoria) Smith was medically retired from the Air Force for Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder after serving “8 years, 2 months, and 21 days” of active service. While on active duty, Magan was an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist. In civilian terms: when a pilot locks on a target, arms a missile, fires and completes their mission, he or she needs a highly trained specialist for support. From testing and evaluating new weapons systems to inspecting, repairing and loading ordnance, these specialists make sure that when a pilot pulls the trigger, the right thing happens. Magan ended her honorable service as a Staff Sergeant on April 27, 2014. Every day, but especially today on Veteran’s Day, we thank Magan and her interviewer Lisa, for their service.
Magan transitioned into the trades utilizing the Helmets to Hardhats program to connect with Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 8. She’s currently enrolled in their pre-apprenticeship program in Tampa, FL specializing in tile and brick laying in anticipation of becoming an apprentice.
Her Apprenticeship Director says: “Magan is one of my top apprentices. She has one of the strongest drives that I have ever seen in a person. Her work surpasses that of her peers; she is the cornerstone of Local 8 Southeast’s Apprenticeship Program. One day while in class, I saw Magan tearing her project down. I approached her asking what she was doing, she replied “It wasn’t good enough.” I said, “that’s okay that’s why they call it training.” She looked at me and said, “When I was in the Air Force loading bombs, there was no tolerance for not doing the job right, why should this be any different?” Overwhelmed with her answer, I stood back looking at her and all the apprentices around her. That’s what makes her great and an asset to any employer.”
What are the challenges of being today’s tradeswoman?
I’m underestimated. But once they see what I can do, a lot of minds are changed. I’ve never been an office type of person.
I’ve always felt comfortable in a field environment, working with my hands. I’m used to working in a male-dominated field so I knew what to expect. I know that in that environment you have to prove that you can do it first. If you can show that you can carry your weight everyone will support you.
Why did you choose to join Local 8?
My father is a Field Representative for the local, so I grew up around bricklaying. He told me of all the potential opportunities available to me as a female, disabled veteran. He recommended that I consider becoming a general contractor with a focus on government contracts. It’s what I want to do. I plan to start my business as a signatory contractor to the union while still being an apprentice. My company will hire from the hall, including Journeymen who will mentor and continue to train me as an apprentice until I become a Journeyman myself.
What advice would you give a woman considering a career in the trades?
My advice would be to not be afraid to try just because you’re going to have to work with guys. Prove that you can pull your weight and prove them wrong. There’s nothing like the feeling driving by a building and you put your name on it. I did that! No one can take that away from you!
Exciting times in the Apprenticeship Community! The U.S. Department of Labor, in coordination with the White House, has announced the establishment of the ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERS initiative.
ApprenticeshipUSA offers employers in every industry the tools to develop high-skilled workers to help grow their business. For workers, ApprenticeshipUSA offers opportunities to earn a salary while learning the skills necessary to succeed in high-demand careers. ApprenticeshipUSA exemplifies high standards, instructional rigor and quality training. Whether you are an employer looking to hire, train and retain a skilled workforce, or a worker looking for a new career in a well-paying occupation, ApprenticeshipUSA will help you achieve your goals.
Why join ApprenticeshipUSA as an Apprenticeship LEADER?
Apprenticeships are a great way to develop a pipeline of talented, high-skilled workers to help businesses grow. Through the ApprenticeshipUSA program, we want to share information so that more employers understand how apprenticeship can add value to their businesses and provide greater opportunities for their workers.
That’s why we’re asking you to join the movement and be a LEADER for Apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship LEADERs will work together with the U.S. Department of Labor to share innovative practices and partnerships aimed at expanding apprenticeships within their industries, supply chains, and geographic locations. This is a great opportunity for your organization to receive national recognition as a LEADER in addressing the challenges of developing a skilled workforce and shaping the direction of apprenticeship expansion across the country.
The White House issued an ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERS Fact Sheet to provide additional information.
Also, hear from ApprenticeshipUSA LEADERS member Oberg Industries on the official DOL Blog Page. The blog, authored by David R. Getty, manager of corporate communications at Oberg Industries in Pennsylvania, details why Apprenticeship is an essential component of Oberg’s talent development strategy. Click the link below to read the blog: