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St. Louis Building Trades’ Diversity-Driven Apprenticeship Program Recognized by White House

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A St. Louis program that seeks to help women and minorities join the construction trades was recognized by the White House on Friday at conference attended by Vice President Joe Biden. Building Union Diversity (BUD) focuses on apprenticeship in construction, manufacturing, and other trades.

Speaking about the program at the conference was John Gaal, Director of Training and Workforce Development for the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity. “The whole idea here is cast a wider net,” Gaal said. “We are trying to position the registered apprenticeship as the other college.”

Cabinet secretaries and other members of the Obama administration were in attendance as well.

BUD graduated its first class in October and 8 of the 9 graduates have since begun careers with the building trades.  The newest class of 13 began its journey last week.

The BUD model is being replicated as well, reaching beyond union organizations to the MOKAN Construction Contractors Assistance Center, which enrolled 25 people in pre-apprenticeship classes.  The program has been certified by the Department of Labor, a rarity for non-union apprenticeship programs.

In Boston, another program is looking to buck traditional construction worker demographics. The cooperative apprenticeship effort of The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Harvard Business School (HBS), The Compliance Mentor Group (TCMG), Lee Kennedy Company, Inc. (LKCO) and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School will allow high school seniors who are 18 years of age and in their second semester of school to work as carpenters’ apprentices on a union project. A press release cites “a stronger, more diverse, next generation construction workforce” as the coalition’s mission.


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