A group of Boston inner-city minority youths learned about the job opportunities available in construction when they participated in a building trades career exploration program offered this summer by a partnership of the Building Trades Training Directors Association of Massachusetts (BTTDA) and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD).
The youths were paid $7.50 an hour for seven weeks, for the hours 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and received a light breakfast each morning as part of the program, which is funded by the United States Department of Labor, Workforce Investment Act, Youth Opportunity Grant through the Boston Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Services (JCS), and the Boston Private Industry Council.
BTTDA Program Administrator Dr. Elaine Cadigan designed and administers this model career exploration program as well as oversees classroom activities that are included in the program. She developed the program as a link to the building trades that is expected to help the industry fulfill the city of Boston mandate that municipal projects must employ a certain percentage of Boston residents.
At the beginning of the program, students underwent a computerized assessment of their mathematical skills and if necessary were given individual remediation plans. Volunteer mentor David St. Peter assisted with the assessments and remediation plans for those needing help. Later, students were re-assessed to measure progress.
The training included creative writing, 10-hour OSHA training and certification, tools and equipment orientation, and hands-on training through individual and group projects.
In addition, participants took field trips to apprenticeship training centers, got help from mentors, and attended talks presented by training directors and employers.
Among the topics addressed by speakers were safety, anger management, substance abuse, budget and financial advice, appropriate work place behavior, and labor history. Team building exercises, employability skills development and career counseling were important aspects of the program.
Sylvester Zienkiewicz, a teacher with building trades experience, provided instruction and was supported by the Boston Carpenters Training Center, the Operating Engineers Training Center and the Building Trades Training Directors Association.
Building trades retirees served as mentors as well. Gary Prout, a caseworker with ABCD, provided counseling support for the participants and helped supervise the group.
Training took place at a number of locations, among them: I.B.E.W., Local 103 Training Center in Dorchester; the Sheet Metal Workers Training Center, also in Dorchester; and the Boston Carpenters Training Center, in Brighton.
Field trips were hosted by: Hoisting & Portable Engineers, Local 4; Pipefitters, Local 537; Plumbers, Local 12; Bricklayers, Local 3; Iron Workers, Local 7; and the New England Laborers.
Graduation ceremonies for the group of Career Exploration program students were held August 30, 2007, at the Boston Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund headquarters in Brighton, Mass. Attended by BTTDA officers and members, trustees of participating apprenticeship programs, employers, speakers, and families of the graduates, the event was capped by a breakfast for the graduates, funded by the Boston Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund.