We are entering the graduation season. Whether students will don caps, gowns, hoods, or be in less formal settings, it represents a progression. For some, it is a time for educational pursuits to reach their conclusion, while for others, it represents a beginning.
Recently, Meredith and I had the opportunity to attend the latter type of graduation. Members of Class 3 of the Building Futures program successfully completed their pre-apprenticeship program and prepared to begin their apprenticeships with one of the Building Trades unions and the participating contractors.
We’ve mentioned the Building Futures program in prior blogs. A joint program sponsored by Franklin County, the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, IMPACT Community Action, and other participating groups, the program serves economically disadvantaged and underserved residents of the county. Promotion of jobs and economic development is one of the strategic goals of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, and their support of this program demonstrates their commitment in this area.
It is not an easy program, requiring dedication from the students. As Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce told the graduates, “Someone may provide the opportunity to you, it is up to you to grab it.” That I exactly what these students have done.
Prospective students must have a high school diploma or earn a GED. They must maintain good attendance and pass drug screening. They receive information about the various apprenticeship programs available to them so they can make an informed choice about which trade they would like to enter. In this latest class, the 11 graduates entered seven different programs.
The outcomes from the program have already been dramatic. The program has an 88% graduation rate, with 82% receiving placement into an apprenticeship. Graduates from the first two cohorts of the program have already earned over $1.4 million in wages, with an average wage of over $16.91 per hour plus benefits. Most will also have the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree during their apprenticeship programs at no cost to them.
There are a number of examples of how Building Futures has changed the lives of participants. In one case, a student who began the program was homeless and rode a bicycle to class every day. After 12 weeks he had an apartment, a car, and was an apprenticeship with the Laborer’s Union. He is preparing to enter a career that will pay good wages and benefits, job security, economic security for their families, and a clear path to the middle class.
Building Futures has received wide recognitions and several awards, including the prestigious 2018 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award for economic development. The program has served as a model for other cities and municipalities to create economic development opportunities in their areas.
Want to learn more about Building Futures? You are invited to attend our upcoming CALMC Membership Meeting on May 22. We will feature Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and Leland Bass, Employee Relations Manager at IMPACT Community Action. Dorsey and Leland will discuss the programs and its outcomes.
If you are interested in attending the meeting, please contact us for more details. This successful program is well-worth your time and attention, and we hope you will be able to join us.