By 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.