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When an Open House Comes Calling

By Renee Prewitt

It’s about jobs, good paying jobs, and the community is quickly getting on board with Detroit’s new focus on careers in the skilled trades. Blue collar jobs are sexy again and with all of the construction projects getting underway—building the new Red Wings Stadium and the new international bridge, road repairs, and renovation projects, construction firms are scrambling to find employees who are trained electricians, cement masons, operating engineers, plumbers, etc. Retirees and the building boom have created a large employment hole to fill.

In response, schools like A. Philip Randolph Career Training Center are stepping in, offering young people dual learning opportunities in academics and the skilled trades. They held an open house at Randolph last week; it’s the only DPS school that prepares students for careers in the construction trades industry. Several people came out to talk about the new partnership between business, government, unions and Detroit Public Schools that will push young people into a wide open pipeline of opportunity that leads to lasting, middle income jobs. Here’s what some of them said about “Apprenticeships, the Other Four-Year Degree.”

IMG_5567“With the right preparation, people will be ready to go to the next level.” Don O’Connell, Executive Director, Operating Engineers, Local 324.

“I heard someone say, ‘If I don’t believe I can make a difference, then a difference won’t be made.’ I know all of us can make a difference and help our young people get the training they need.” Marion McGhee, Executive Director, Office of College and Career Readiness.

“We will see the City of Detroit being rebuilt and our students will be a part of that.” Dr. George Pena, Director, Randolph CTC.

“My father always said that opportunity comes with preparation. Those words have never been more true than they are today.” Dannis Mitchell, Diversity manager, Barton Malow.

At Randolph, students gain hands-on experience in construction in collaboration with local businesses, industry leaders and the community. Randolph is also the only DPS Career and Technical Center to offer the new 9th Grade Career Academy program, where high school students can earn a comprehensive high school diploma, an associate’s degree, trade skill certification and a paid internship through extensive coursework. Ask the young person you know what they think about working in construction. To learn more, call 313 240-4377.

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (The Partnership) consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of our programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships, apprenticeship readiness services, and business opportunities.

Fix the Roads!

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By Renee Prewitt

At a recent industry conference sponsored by Michigan Infrastructure Transportation Association (MITA), the focus was on rallying as many voices as possible to support the new $1.2B roads bill.

While oppositional voices are gearing up for battle, people on both sides of the issue agree: Michigan needs to fix its crumbling roads! http://www.saferoadsyes.com/prop-1/

The reasons to vote for Prop 1 are many:
· Our pothole riddled roads cannot be ignored any longer. Individual auto repairs are hitting a lot of us pretty hard in the pocket. In addition, deteriorating roads are not safe.
· The new gas tax will guarantee that every penny in state taxes we pay at the pump is guaranteed to go to transportation. We can put an end to the shell game played by the politicians in Lansing that shifts gas taxes to non-transportation purposes.
· Some of the funds will be used to help schools and local communities, which is not a bad thing if you live in a community that has schools. During the recession, most of these budgets were cut.
· Contrary to what some believe, the state doesn’t have the money to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges today without drastically cutting essential funding for our local communities, schools and public safety officers.
Tax increases are never popular, but in Michigan’s case, Prop 1 is necessary. If you don’t like the way Legislators handled this issue or handle your tax dollars in general, pledge to hold them accountable for all of their decisions regarding road funding in the future.

Don’t hold up the passage of this bill for a magic formula that may never materialize. Vote to fix the roads by voting Yes for Prop 1 on May 5.
If not now, when?

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (The Partnership) consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of our programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships and apprenticeship readiness services.

Construction is Not a Dead-End Job

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By Lisa Killingsworth 

Lately, I have been overhearing people telling students that they should perform better in school so that they “Don’t end up like the construction workers on the side of the road.” They also ask students, “Do you think that they like working those construction jobs?” Comments like these demonstrate that there is still a negative stigma attached to people who work in the skilled trades. Many of these workers are considered lazy and dumb because they are seen as people who are not capable of completing the traditional education path. While it is important to stress the significance of obtaining a good college education, we also need to include the pursuit of a skilled trade into the conversation when discussing career options after high school.

It will take some time for people to accept the fact that skilled trade jobs are a profession that requires lots of hands on training, math and science; they’re not for slackers. Whether someone goes to college or chooses to become an apprentice, students should know that both options require the same amount of hard-work and dedication. They should be educated about some of the benefits of working in the skilled trades: a competitive salary, good benefits, and developing skills that prepare a person for the workplace.

An apprentice typically earns while they learn, which is one of the main incentives to join the trades. Once they become “journeymen” or experts in their field, they can potentially earn from $60-$80,000 per year. This is a lot more than college and university graduates make in their first, entry-level job. This is because someone working in the skilled trades has already been working in their field for about 2-4 years and are prepared to earn a higher income because they are already more experienced.

Another valuable message about the skilled trades is coming from employers. Big businesses and corporations aim to hire young, hard-working individuals who have some sort of educational experience. Like college, working in the skilled trades presents ample opportunities to learn and to become well-versed in a particular field such as welding, plumbing or bricklaying. Also, it is a great way to develop skills such as teamwork, leadership, collaboration and communication, all of which can be used in any workplace setting.

The skilled trades are a great way to make a living. It is time to accept the idea that the skilled trades are just as valuable as white collar jobs when it comes to choosing a career.

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (The Partnership) consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of The Partnership’s programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships, apprenticeship programs and business opportunities in the transportation sector. The name represents our goal to demystify the apprenticeship process by helping more people find their way into the apprenticeship pipeline, as well as broadening awareness of business opportunities with Michigan Department of Transportation.

 

Access for All Program is Putting Detroiters to Work

1418344534107By Renee Prewitt 

Everyone is talking about it, and it’s really happening. Men and women who have never had the chance to enter the skilled trades—you know, those professions where everyone wears a hard hat and works on a construction site—are going to class and doing what it takes to become an apprentice.

Last week, 14 people graduated from Access for All, a public-private, community-union-management collaborative partnership. This apprenticeship readiness training program is preparing a new generation of workers for the union construction industry and for hundreds of new jobs that are coming Detroit’s way. Most importantly, jobs/apprenticeships are already committed or sponsored by employers before individuals are put through the training. This is AFA’s second graduating class.

“These folks have put in the time, now it’s time to go to work,” said Don O’Connell, executive director, Operating Engineers Local 324 LMEC, to the roomful of family and supporters at the graduation ceremony.

While the nine-week AFA program is non-paid, it prepares graduates to pass the tests required to become paid apprentices in a range of skilled trades, including carpentry, electrical, iron work, cement masonry, operating engineer, and laborer. Openings are available in these trades because of a projected increase in infrastructure, commercial and industrial construction in the City of Detroit, and the retirement of skilled union journeypersons born during the baby boom years. Both of these factors have created unprecedented demand for skilled union construction workers. Access for All is one of many programs that are putting Detroiters to work by providing hands on training in the skilled trades and connecting graduates to real career opportunities.

Graduate Stephen White talked about how each person looked out for the other throughout the program, and how one person inspired him to take one of the program’s requirements—being on time every day—more seriously. “One day, Lyric (Vance) came in on a skateboard,” he said of his classmate. “If she did that, I knew I could get here on time in my car.”

Congratulations to the 2014 AFA graduating class!

Warren Brown, Michael Capers, Schanna Cottrell, Donte Davis, Michelle Grigsby, Phillip Jones, Keith Lawson, Michael Richards, Rico Sandoval, Dorian Small, Theodore Spencer, Lyric Vance, Michel Vargas, and Stephen White.

For more information about the program, call 313-945-5200, Ext 4317.

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (The Partnership) consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of The Partnership’s programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships, apprenticeship programs and business opportunities in the transportation sector. The name represents our goal to demystify the apprenticeship process by helping more people find their way into the apprenticeship pipeline, as well as broadening awareness of business opportunities with Michigan Department of Transportation.

We’re Not Charlie’s Angels

By Lisa Killingsworth
                        Female Construction Worker Hispanic Woman  Construction WorkerWorker
While searching for pictures of women in construction to be used in a future brochure, I began noticing that the majority of the images I found on two professional stock photo sites, showed women modeling construction, rather than women working in construction.  While these images are obviously the vision of the photographer, they revisit old stereotypes of women in construction.

 

These pictures depict them working in heels, wearing tight clothing and donning yellow hats and bright smiles.  In contrast, images of men in construction show them actually doing work. For example, the men are demonstrated operating machinery, giving orders and supporting other construction workers.

Yes, photographers have captured images of women in construction that are enjoyable, fabulous, and even sexy, but the real reasons why women choose to work in construction are very different.  Women join the skilled trades to make money, to feel proud of what they have accomplished, and to pursue their career interests.  Women in construction know that working in heels is not feasible. They prefer loose clothing because it’s comfortable. Photographers would do us all a service if they recognized this, and helped to distance women from the “calendar girls” that were so prevalent in the past.

The messaging should be the same for both genders. Let’s make sure that we cater to the fact that both men and women have the same goals in mind when it comes to enhancing their futures and furthering their careers.

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of our programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships and apprenticeship readiness services.

Spotlight: Operating Engineers Local 324

By Lisa Killingsworth 

Who: Operating Engineers Local 324, a member of The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation

What: The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 is devoted to working with business community and policymakers to create jobs and to build a stronger future for Michigan.  Their first priority is to provide rigorous worker training, making sure that Michigan has a highly skilled workforce that can compete with other states, for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century.  They also want their members to be able to perform these jobs safely, on time and within a set budget. Second, Operating Engineers Local 324 is dedicated to fixing Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges, which will create local jobs, attract more businesses and strengthen the safety of drivers. Third, they aim to invest whole-heartedly into neighborhood schools so that kids can receive a high-quality education in a safe and clean learning environment.  Members work hard every day building, operating and maintaining the roads, bridges and buildings that Michiganders rely on. They also operate power plants, keep school buildings safe, perform critical HVAC duties and much more.

When: Founded in June, 1963.

Where: Grand Rapids, Bloomfield Township, and Marquette, MI

Why: The mission of Operating Engineers Local 324 is to watch for, and invest time into the ever-changing economic, social, political and legal challenges that face the union and to provide an enhanced level of services to its members via dedicated and loyal professionals.

The Training:
–       What does an Operating Engineer Apprentice do?
Operates and maintains hoisting and portable construction equipment, such as Bulldozers, Excavators, Scrapers, Graders, Loaders and Cranes.
–       What makes an ideal Operating Engineer Apprentice?
Someone who has keen awareness of extreme responsibility for the safety of other building tradesmen who work around the equipment, realizes the value of the expensive construction equipment and is able to make quick, sensible decisions as an operator.
–       What are the responsibilities of an Operating Engineer Apprentice?
To perform duties thoughtfully and diligently, to respect the property and the equipment of the contractor, to complete hours of related school instruction and to abide by all rules and regulations put in place by the contractor and the JATF.
–       How does someone become an Operating Engineers Apprentice?
Those interested in becoming an Operating Engineers apprentice can pick up their applications from either the Howell, Grand Rapids, Marquette, Grayling or Detroit training facilities (see ‘News & Events’ page for addresses of these locations).  Applications are available on a “first come, first serve” basis and will be available for pick-up on June 5th – June 6th, from 9:00am – 12:00pm and 2:00pm – 5:00pm.

The Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation consists of unions, businesses, and non-profit representatives, working collaboratively to enhance economic development within neighborhoods—which are directly impacted by major public works, and transportation construction projects—by creating community benefits, business growth, job training and other opportunities.

MiRoad2Work.org is one of our programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships and apprenticeship readiness services.

 

Bridge to Entrepreneurship

By KB Stallworth, PhD.

It is no secret that “access” to significant opportunities in Road & Bridge contracting is challenging for many of our firms.  We also know that there is only so much that government can do to influence  participation in “competitive processes” that have very strict  Federal guidelines.  That being said,  Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is convinced that the path to economic stability for Detroit residents and Michigan’s minority community lies in the creation of greater access opportunities that are based on  good business practices that yield benefits to the contractors, contracted labor,  and the community where major projects occur.

Trying where possible to spend money with In-State businesses rather than Out-of –State businesses, spend with local businesses , and hire when possible from the local workforce, where the project is……..creates economic value  for everyone.

The argument  with Washington regarding our request for  more road and bridge money  based on  our “Doner State” status is not good enough alone to convince the Congress to increase our federal highway appropriation. But our argument for more funds in both Washington and Lansing is substantially improved with our ability to work together to try to make sure that every project has a local revenue , local business and local employment impact.  Having the ability to quantify the commerce and employment impact associated with projects gives the Congress and the State Legislature an ROI (return on investment) on tax dollars that when coupled with the need to repair our crumbling roads and bridges…….has great power.

This is not just good public policy….it’s good business. Govenor Rick Synder is advocating strongly for increased Michigan spends, Representative Thomas Stallworth is advocating in the Michigan legislature for “local impact metrics” associated infrastructure investment, Congressman Gary Peters  continues to press for more federal transportation funds ; and Mayor Mike Duggan is relentless in his efforts to bring all of these processes together around rebuilding Detroit and improving the S.E. Michigan economy.

It will take extra effort and “teamwork” to build trust between the DBE contracting community and the major players in the Industry.  But trust is required in every business relationship, thus the fact that it does not exist hurts our collective ability to advocate for a “larger pie”; and the larger pie is what we all need in order for everyone to eat.

We are all business people. We all want to protect  and grow our businesses. We also want relationships that will foster that growth.

Every rational stakeholder should want an economically stable and growing tax base because growth translates into more business opportunity.  Thus the delivery of a high quality, cost efficient product is essential.  It is equally essential however, that every effort is made to think about how to achieve that objective while delivering the “best value” to the community through “practical” local business, minority contract and diverse employment processes.

There will be a learning curve for us all to get there. This has to be done successfully  “without set-asides” to change the “penalty conversations” and stimulate a growing interest in “solving for x” because it makes good business sense, verses because it is a “compliance demand”. Together we can get there ….if we can “clear the board” …..”have honest no-fault exchanges”…….and figure out where the  “business matches” are that make sense.

For small contractors; available cash, equipment and surety are major impediments to growth. To address those issues……the Bridges Program will provide access to “the actual” resources needed for those contractors that are able to develop  multi-year relationships …that may or may not be directly related to a project. This is important because “people do business with whom they are comfortable”.  The “Bridges” program seeks to provide an opportunity to achieve that comfort and at the same time build capacity.  Fundamental to this is understanding the various business models out there the major players use, strengthening estimating skills, and improving access to component resources that improve competitiveness.  Much of which can occur through acquisition of a “real relationship”.

Please know that this is not just some academic exercise, I know it can work because I have lived it (http://utilityservicesofamerica.com/about.htm).

The other thing we want to make sure you understand is how to use technical support organizations like MMSDC, MBCC, MMCA to help access “vertical and diverse” business opportunities as well as networks capable providing permanent or limited (project specific) joint-venture constructs.

This last point is very important. There is no reason that minority firms cannot form “real minority-majority joint ventures” or minority-minority joint ventures……or seek equity investment from the minority community to grow their businesses or acquire others.  All of these options will be afforded via the “Bridges Programs,”  so RSVP today !   Mayor Duggan has begun to pull together public and private sector organizations that are equally determined to improve local contracting and employment opportunities in a manner that can be replicated because it makes good business sense…..and because it is a smart move that fosters economic progress.

No matter where you are in the contacting spectrum, you cannot afford to miss this meeting at the Detroit St. Regis.  RSVP today !

MiRoad2Work.org is one of The Partnership’s programs, designed as a “one-stop shop” for information about apprenticeships, apprenticeship readiness programs and business opportunities in the transportation sector. The name represents our goal to demystify the apprenticeship process by helping more people find their way into the apprenticeship pipeline, as well as broadening awareness of business opportunities with Michigan Department of Transportation. 
info@miroad2work.org
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34th Annual DBE and Small Business Conference: Focusing On Readiness & Opportunity

By Lisa Killingsworth & Renee Prewitt 

The Michigan Department of Transportation’s 34th Annual DBE and Small Business Conference was in full-swing from March 31 – April 1, 2014, at the Marriott Hotel, in Pontiac, Michigan.  Day One opened with remarks from MDOT’s leadership, focusing on the warming business climate in the State, and how to effectively do business with MDOT.

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The Region Engineer Panel, moderated by Gregory C.
Johnson, MDOT COO, offered participants an overview
of “The Role of the Region Engineer and Why It’s Important.”

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Kim Avery, MDOT Metro Region, said she wants to make
sure DBE’s have access to the people and services they need.

The morning workshops included:

  • MDOT E-Construction Initiatives: What You Need to Know to Compete for Future MDOT Contracts
  • Understanding MDOT Expectations for Consultant Proposals
  • How to Pepare and Submit a Successful Consultant Proposal.

Day Two of the conference featured a keynote address by Sundra Ryce, president and CEO of SLR Contracting & Service Company, Inc. who advised fellow DBEs not to worry about being taken advantage of, but to evaluate the long range potential of projects. She did and ended up being part of a billion dollar development in Buffalo, NY.

Breakout sessions included:

  • Innovative Contracting at MDOT
  • How to Submit a Competitive Construction Bid to MDOT
  • Who Does What on a Construction Project?

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Russell Jorgenson of the Federal Highway Administration of Michigan, said, “We want to reach 9% DBE contract participation this year.”

The Conference Vendor Fair offered small businesses opportunities to discuss their products and services and how to work with other small firms  to achieve long term business objectives. An informal networking reception followed the Vendor Fair.

The conference ended with a Transit Summit that encouraged participants to imagine the future of the transportation industry, how working collaboratively can achieve these goals, and project requirements around the State.

Another Alternative for Success

By Lisa Killingsworth 

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The Forbes article “The Jobs of the Future Don’t Require a College Degree,” by Pascal-Emmanuel, emphasizes the importance of apprenticeships and how they can prepare people for the future job market. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pascal-Emmanuel points out that skilled labor jobs are some of the fastest growing jobs of the future. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical, insulation workers, personal and home health care aides, and brick masons and electrical helpers are just some of the occupations that are currently in high demand. Every day, apprenticeship opportunities are becoming more available, making the idea of “everyone needs college to be successful” sound more like a grand pronouncement rather than the actual truth.

This article is an interesting take on apprenticeships. The truth is, whether someone decides to either go to college or to enroll in an apprenticeship program, that person will find comfort in knowing that they have options and that they can make contributions to the world in more ways than one.

Sources:

Forbes Magazine

http://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2013/05/07/the-jobs-of-the-future-dont-require-a-college-degree/

Bureau of Labor Statistics

http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_103.htm

Apprenticeships Offer a Pathway to a Successful Career for All

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Kaitlin Hoetger, Operating Engineer at Ajax Paving Industries, Inc.

By Donald O’Connell 
Apprenticeships offer pathways to successful careers that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits.  This is the reason Kaitlin Hoetger decided to become an apprentice Operating Engineer.

The Operations Manager of Ajax Paving Industries, Inc., Leo Remijan, noted that “In 2008, Ajax contacted the Operating Engineers for potential applicants for the MDOT On-the-Job Training Program.  Kaitlin was referred to Ajax at that time.  She has proven to be a dedicated hard worker, dependable, knowledgeable, willing and able to work as a valuable team member to get the job done.  Kaitlin has earned the respect and trust of her other crew members.”  He further notes, “Kaitlin is one of our talented young operators who will be the future of the company for many years to come.”

Mark Zinser, Education and Training Instructor, Operating Engineers Local 324 JATF, Inc. mentioned that Kaitlin strives to be the best operator she can be.  Mark noted, “She would not settle for just a passing score on her equipment proficiency test, she wanted the best score.”  He also said, “She went above and beyond her requirements for graduation by taking extra classes so that she was a well-rounded operator.”

Kaitlin has demonstrated that she has what it takes to be a successful Operating Engineer.  She arrives early to the job site and is prepared to begin each day with a good attitude.  She understands that the days may be long, often with travel away from home, but that has not stopped her.  She understands that the road and highway work is dangerous, which is why she always puts safety first.  She understands that a positive attitude can be contagious and that is why other crew members enjoy working with her.

Kaitlin sustains her successful career as an operating engineer while also raising a family.  In early 2012, she took a maternity leave to become a mother.  Safety Director of Ajax, Joseph Landino, stated that “Upon returning to work, not missing a beat, she picked up right where she left off.”For all of these reasons, Kaitlin was honored by the Associated General Contractors of Michigan as the Operating Engineer Apprentice of the Year at their February 14, 2014 annual meeting.

Kaitlin posted to the Operating Engineers Local 324’s Facebook page, “Thank you everyone!  The recognition is very much appreciated.  I’m proud to be a member of Local 324.”

Congratulations Kaitlin, you make us all very proud. IMG951067-1

 

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