The city of Gary, Indiana has an unemployment rate of 14.2 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In response, the Indiana State Building Trades have created The Indiana Plan in hopes of helping some of the state’s unemployed into union apprenticeships to begin careers in construction.
The Gary Post-Tribune recently did a story on 23-year old Mikeal Davis who, after his career in aviation, was derailed by diabetes. Davis used The Indiana Plan to start a career in the building trades.
The pre-apprenticeship program is aimed at increasing the number of minorities and women in the construction trades. It allows applicants to take a basic two-week course after which they are tested to see if they have the skills needed to do construction work. Upon completion, workers can gain certification that allows them to work on construction sites for up to 2,000 hours. Davis credited the program with his successful attempt to change careers.
“The program definitely helps,” said Davis who joined the Indiana Plan about nine months ago. The application process and classes are simple and if you’re currently working, it doesn’t take away from it.”
City and labor officials have credited Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s support in the success of the program. According to Randy Palmateer, business manager for the Northwestern Building and Construction Trades Council,
“We’ve always had a good relationship with the city of Gary, but with Karen Freeman-Wilson, it’s a great relationship. She’s been open with us and our program.