This is an excerpt from "Community-Labor Partnerships 'TRADE-UP' to Create a Pipeline to Good Jobs in Atlanta," by Deborah Scott, executive director, STAND-UP; founder, TRADE-UP.
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.
The Georgia Workforce Office has predicted openings for 82,000 positions in skilled trades through 2016. With workers whose average age hovers in the mid-50s, construction needs a workforce pipeline to fill jobs quickly and competently. Trade-Up is designed to be that pipeline. STAND-UP and its network of community-based organizations coordinate recruitment and provide screening as well as soft-skills support, such as GED assistance and assistance with expunging conviction records. Participants receive instruction in 21 skill areas under the AFL-CIO Building Trades Multi-Craft curriculum. They earn certificates in OSHA 10, CPR and First Aid, financial literacy, bank accounts at community banks, health education and job-readiness skills. With steel-toe boots, painter's pants, blue Trade-UP shirts and hard hats supplied by the program, they walk out the door confidently, with their background check and clean drug test results, "ready to work." More than 100 trainees have completed the Trade-UP pre-apprenticeship curriculum. The city of Atlanta has pledged to create a designated track for hiring Trade-Up graduates in its public works division and on infrastructure projects. Trade-Up grads have already been placed at a base-closure project at Fort McPherson, power plants, on construction sites and with residential contractors.
Read the rest of "Community-Labor Partnerships 'TRADE-UP' to Create a Pipeline to Good Jobs in Atlanta" on The Huffington Post.