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Nov
2014
24

Labor Sec. Perez Visits, Praises Boston Construction Unions’ Apprenticeship Program

Biden Swears In Thomas Perez As Labor Secretary

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On a tour of Sheet Metal Workers Local 17 headquarters in Boston, Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez praised the union’s Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program, lauding it as a “pathway to the middle class.”  Perez announced to reporters that the DOL would soon be starting a program which granted a total of $100 million in competitive grants to help programs such as Building Pathways.  The grants could become available as early as next month:

“For the first time, the Department of Labor, in our efforts to lift up apprenticeship and double the number of apprentices in the next five years, will put out a competitive grant program.”

The Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship program lasts six weeks and introduces participants to the building trades.  Upon completion graduates can begin their journey in the trades with a five-year apprenticeship.  Last year, over 200 people applied for 15 open sports.  Even with the popularity of the program, organizers worried about its future due to a lack of funding.  

Perez explained the importance of pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs:

“We’ve got to scale this up, because we’re leaving qualified people on the cutting room floor. The trades, historically, have had underrepresentation among African Americans, Latinos, and women, and part of what this program and the building trades are trying to do is to reach out to every community here in Boston. I’m confident there were more than 15 people in that applicant pool and that’s why we’re going to try to scale this up.”

Perez told reporters his interest in the program was sparked by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who during his time with the area Building and Construction Trades Council helped create the program.

“I met with the mayor a few months back and there are few things he talks about with greater pride than Building Pathways. I wanted to see for myself what this was all about.”

John Healy, Building Pathways coordinator, called Perez’s visit a “great day for the program.”  It was also a great day for underserved Boston neighborhoods, Healy told the Dorchester Reporter:

“Ninety percent of our students are from Dorchester, so it’s good to see the inner-city kids getting the break, chance, and recognition.”

As we reported in July, Marty Walsh often referred to Building Pathways as one of his greatest accomplishments while on the campaign trail.  Walsh told a group of the program’s graduates,

“Creating the Building Pathways program was one of my proudest achievements during my time with the Building Trades.  This is a program of opportunity that makes real, tangible change in the lives of women and people of color. I’m moved by the stories of the program participants, and I could not be more proud of the success of the program overall.”

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