The Labor Innovation Fund for the Twenty-First Century, aka LIFT, a collaborative project of the AFL-CIO with the Ford Foundation, the Solidago Foundation and the New World Foundation, was recently highlighted by the Berger-Marks Foundation. LIFT gives grants to partnership projects, “conversations around common agendas," and other efforts to link the union movement with community organizing focused on workers’ rights, decent jobs and a fair economy.
The Atlanta/North Georgia Building Trades Council and STAND-UP, a nonprofit "Think and Act Tank for working communities" have partnered to create Trade-Up, a pre-apprenticeship program. Trade-Up addresses a critical gap in the regional labor force. Despite the fact that unemployment in Atlanta building trades remains mired in double digits, the aging construction workforce is leading to shortages of workers in specific trades. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that through the remainder of this decade, employment openings will come mainly from the replacement of retiring workers on existing jobs, not from new jobs created by economic growth. Skills linked to apprenticeships and other forms of on-the-job training are expected to be among the fastest-growing categories of employment. Apprenticeships are an efficient way to address the paradoxical imbalance between increasing market demand for specialized trade skills in an environment otherwise plagued by high unemployment and declining labor force participation.