Check out the AFL-CIO's new In Our Communities website feature, "Cardinal Rule: Louisville's Building Trades Train Next Generation of Workers."
It only took a couple years of college for 26-year-old Muhammad Al-Bilali to realize that spending four years racking up thousands of dollars in student loans wasn't for him.
"More than anything, I was looking for a skill," says the Louisville, Ky., resident. "I wasn't getting that in college."
Moreover, he wasn't interested in running up debt. But job prospects for a young high-school graduate in today's struggling economy are scarce. And for young African Americans like Al-Bilali, the job picture is grimmer, where unemployment for those under 29 is more than triple the national rate.
He found part-time work in Louisville's many warehouses, but none of those jobs offered much in terms of wages and benefits and none offered a path toward a real career or much of a shot at the middle class.
He heard about a program called the Construction Pipeline, a partnership between the Louisville Urban League and the Greater Louisville Building and Construction Trades Council, which recruits local residents for an intensive 120-hour pre-apprenticeship training curriculum in the basics of construction.
Read the rest of "Cardinal Rule: Louisville's Building Trades Train Next Generation of Workers."