Building Trades, City of Atlanta Launch Trade-Up Program to Bring Women, Minorities Into Construction
New, creative solutions to the complex problems facing the American economy are needed in droves right now. In Georgia, the construction trades face more than the obvious current unemployment situation, they also sport a next generation that has been largely unable to apprentice due to ongoing lack of opportunity. As the skilled labor force ages, an estimated 82,000 positions are expected to open in Georgia by 2016. Today, youth, women, and minorities continue to have trouble realizing the upward mobility that comes from a stable career.
Enter the new, creative solution. The Atlanta/North Georgia Building Trades Council and local activist group Georgia STAND-UP have come together to create a pre-apprenticeship program, Trade-Up, that aims to prepare those in need for a career in the construction trades:
STAND-UP and its network of community-based organizations coordinate recruitment and provide screening as well as soft-skills support, such as GED assistance and assistance with expunging conviction records. Participants receive instruction in 21 skill areas under the AFL-CIO Building Trades Multi-craft curriculum. They earn certificates in OSHA 10, CPR and First Aid, financial literacy, bank accounts at community banks, health education and job-readiness skills. With steel-toe boots, painter’s pants, blue Trade-UP shirts, and hardhats supplied by the program, they walk out the door confidently, with their background check and clean drug test results, “ready to work.”
So far, over 100 trainees have completed pre-apprenticeship. With cooperation from the City of Atlanta and its Mayor, Kasim Reed, Trade-Up participants have been able to get jobs on work sites such as the Fort McPherson Base Closure. Mayor Reed has made Trade-Up part of his plan to meet President Obama’s “Better Buildings Challenge”:
To help boost long-term demand for the skilled construction crafts in Atlanta, organized labor, STAND-UP, Trade-Up, and our community partners have teamed with Emerald Cities Atlanta and the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge to champion large-scale retrofits of commercial buildings to achieve energy efficiency throughout the region. The effort is part of Mayor Kasim Reed’s goal and the president’s “Better Buildings Challenge” to make Atlanta one of the country’s leading centers of urban sustainability by achieving a 20-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. Within Emerald Cities Atlanta the Trade-Up apprenticeship track supports a collaborative pipeline that coordinates the efforts of organized labor, community groups, technical colleges, local government, and private business to balance training and skill development with projections of actual market demand. The pipeline has attracted widespread interest and is being considered by the Department of Labor as a national model.