With so many Americans living at or below the poverty level, it is important to have programs in place that show impoverished Americans how to make a great living in the building trades through a registered apprenticeship program.
Rhode Island Building Futures Executive Director Andrew Cortés explained how his program is helping impoverished Rhode Islanders find meaningful careers in the union building trades on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Rhode Island Building Futures
As a union carpenter who completed a building trades registered apprenticeship program, Cortés saw the value of a building trades career and wanted to help those with less opportunities, build a future in the building trades.
He explained the program as a five-week, 200-hour pre-apprenticeship program designed to expose participants to the building trades. The participants are taught the basics of the various trades through classroom instruction and hands-on lessons.
When participants complete the program, they are better equipped and more qualified to apply for building trades apprenticeship programs in Rhode Island. Cortés said the graduation rate is high and the retention rate of graduates staying in their building trades career is even higher.
Reaching out to the community
He explained that the program relies on graduates to spread the word about the program to their communities. The easiest way to attract participants is to show them a member of their own community who has had success.
However, the program conducts outreach events for women. While women are paid the same as their male counterparts in the union building trades, only about 10 percent of their participants are women. This remains higher than the amount of women who make up the building trades, which is less than three percent.
Finally, Cortés said it is important for people to understand that apprenticeship is a form of post-secondary education, much like college. On top of the livable wage, many registered apprenticeship programs offer college credit, giving those seeking a degree a path to obtain one.