Construction is an industry that will always need skilled workers. Economists are predicting an oncoming surge in capital construction investments in virtually every region of the nation. Add to that the fact that the labor demographics of the U.S. construction show that a significant number of current construction workers are due to retire in the next five to ten years.
In short, our unions, and our industry, are now looking for workers to enter apprenticeships. And we are placing a strong emphasis upon building bridges for minorities, women and military veterans to gain access to these opportunities that will place them on a trajectory towards a stable, secure Middle Class life.
Little is spent in many other industries to train the next generation of US workers. That is not the case in the unionized construction industry where Building Trades unions, craft workers, and their employer partners invest approximately $1 billion per year across the nation in skilled craft training. Add to that the wages and benefits that apprentices receive through our "earn while you learn" programs, and that nationwide investment is approximately $9 billion!
In the greater Baltimore/Washington, DC region, our unions invest tens of millions of dollars annually on such training. The money for this training is raised through contributions by our existing members and our signatory contractors.
In addition to this unique commitment to training, local building trades councils are working with local governments, as well as public and private project owners, to join together in the creation of structured career training opportunities, through pre-apprenticeship programs, for under-represented populations.
The Building Pathways program in Boston, MA is just one example. The program is sponsored by the Boston Building & Construction Trades Council in partnership with Action for Boston Community Development, the Boston Housing Authority, the Building Trades Training Directors Association, and The Construction institute. Building Pathways is a pre-apprenticeship program designed to provide a structured opportunity for citizens in disadvantaged communities to gain access to skill craft apprenticeship training.
Access to career training is the foundational basis for the labor-community alliance that C.H.O.I.C.E. views as a major priority. Through vehicles like Community Workforce Agreements and pre-apprenticeship programs, C.H.O.I.C.E. is intent upon taking active steps towards ensuring that women, minorities, military veterans, and other under-served communities, are deriving significant economic and social benefit from local and regional construction investments.