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Commissioners Announce Pre-Apprenticeship Jobs Program

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tyler Lowry, Commissioners, 614-525-6630
Marty Homan, Commissioners, 614-525-5273
Jodi Andes, Job & Family Services, 614-233-2116

The Franklin County commissioners today announced contracts with the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and local service provider, IMPACT Community Action to administer a pre-apprenticeship pilot program designed to help low-income county residents to transition into apprentice programs that lead to well-paid commercial skilled construction trades careers.  The program is called Building Futures, and will provide both “soft skills” and trade-specific training before culminating in apprenticeship entrance assessment so that participants may progress directly from this program to a traditional apprenticeship in one of the skilled construction trades.  Up to 30 students are expected to take part in the pilot class, which kicks off at the end of this month.

“Franklin County is booming,” said Board of Commissioners president John O’Grady.  “And building in this region is only going to continue to increase.  Construction jobs are good jobs, and there’s a shortage of skilled tradespeople right now, but many people need help bridging into an apprenticeship.”

Apprenticeship is the traditional process for training and educating a worker as a skilled construction craftsperson, and involves both classroom and on-the-job instruction.  It’s a necessary first step to a good job in the construction field, and Building Futures will help participants to progress into apprenticeship.

“So many in our community are willing and able to work hard to make a living,” said Commissioner Marilyn Brown.  “But opportunities aren’t equally available, and not everyone is ready to jump right into a formal apprenticeship program.  We’re trying to help young women and men to make that jump.”

Building Futures participants will begin with three weeks of “soft skills” training, such as skills assessments, teamwork and interpersonal skills training, and financial literacy curriculum to be provided by IMPACT Community Action.  Participants will be paid $250 per week for their time.

“Construction trades can be an excellent job,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce.  “But it’s not an easy field to enter, and lots of people don’t know where to start, especially if they’ve never been around the construction industry.”

The next six weeks of Building Futures will focus on so-called hard skills, including safety certification, construction-specific literacy and math, and trade-specific instruction and assessment, which will be provided by the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council.  The entire program will be recognized by the Ohio State Apprentice Council, and will encompass more than 100 hours of training during nine weeks of evenings.

“Apprenticeship is the portal into our local unions and the beginning on a direct path to the middle class.  Apprentices earn while they learn, honing their skills with on-the-job training and education in the classroom,” said Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council.  “Apprentices enjoy a good wage and benefit package which includes health insurance, dental, vision, and a pension.  All so that they can take care of their families and retire comfortably at the end of their career.”

In addition to the skills assessment and training, participants will receive mentoring and Comprehensive Case Management services provided by the commissioners’ Job and Family Services department, which will also administer the program for the county.  Four classes totaling up to 100 students are expected to participate over the next year.

“The Building Futures program demonstrates the power of partnership and real opportunities for individuals seeking work in the construction trades,” said Robert “Bo” Chilton, CEO of IMPACT Community Action.  “Our staff and partners are committed to barrier reduction, quality education, and supportive services that increase the likelihood of individual and collective successes for our program participants.”

The county broke ground two weeks ago on a new Corrections Center, a project that is expected to employ more than 800 construction workers at its peak, and will be starting construction of a new Forensic Science Center next year.  The commissioners are working hard, including via a Construction Inclusion Team made up of members from the community, construction experts, union representatives, and community activists, to help ensure high levels of participation among groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the construction trades, including minorities, women, immigrants, veterans, and members of the LGBT community. 

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