Union Apprentice Programs  

I love the trades. I know, as if that's a surprise. Actually, what I like most about the trades is that they do things like this:

The Community Service Agency’s (CSA) Building Futures Program “makes you like a top draft choice out there in the workforce,” said Daryl McNeil following a four-hour math tutorial course that will help him to pass the application test for a spot in a union construction apprenticeship program. McNeil – a former member of the Army and telecommunications worker – ran into some tough times after his military service but sees his participation in the Building Futures Program as a way to turn his life around and become a model father for his 11 year-old son. “I get a lot of positive reinforcement and help in bringing me up to speed in areas that I am weak in to make me competitive in the workplace.”

But so that you don't think this is just a DC thing, take a look at Hard Hatted Women. Hard Hatted Women is one of my favorite organizations. It's about women empowering women and in doing so, they also make it possible for women to enter the Trades. Yep, I mean good paying union jobs.

Hard Hatted Women began in 1979 when three women, a telephone repair technician, a steelworker and a truck driver, formed a support group for tradeswomen.

They started working these jobs to feed their families. They've helped take women from certified nursing programs which pay minimum wage and to put them into the trades making more as an apprentice than these women made being CNAs. But I'm really paraphrasing one of the founders here from a TV report from more than 10 years ago. See what kind of an impact it made on me?

In an era when women still make about 71 cents for every dollar that a man earns, Hard Hatted Women strives to train, advocate and support women in non-traditional jobs that often offer more pay, benefits and security than some others.

What this article fails to tell you is that this group has had amazing success not only in training women but placing them in jobs with starting salaries in the Cleveland area of $16 to 19 and hour. Again, I'm paraphrasing a 10 year old program. What I remembered most of that program was a woman who'd been through the program and moved from being a waitress to being an electrician. At the time, she made $2.10 an hour plus tips but when she became a journeyman electrician, she made no less than $27 an hour. She bought a house, put two kids through college and said that she didn't care how the men treated her, she was there to do a job and she could do it just as well as any man she met.

For years now, I've wanted to start a similar program in DC. Now that I see there is a full on program available, I wonder how easy or hard it would be to get them to expand this program to include women helping women in the trades.

From the DC program site:
Clients will come from several sources

Referrals from community groups running pre-apprenticeship training programs and those running Job Readiness programs.

Referrals from the DC Public School system and UDC.

Referrals from the DC One Stop Center system.

Self-referrals of individuals who hear about the project.

I wish they included women in this list.


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