All across America, in communities large and small, North America's Building Trades Unions are working with construction owners, contractors, government officials, and community leaders to fashion together ways in which economic development and construction investments can be leveraged to provide career training opportunities for local residents.
A CWA is typically a set of provisions contained within a project labor agreement (PLA) that identify the benefits the local community would accrue from the project, including local hire provisions, training components, and wage and benefit standards for community residents. A PLA is a project-specific, pre-hire collective bargaining agreement that works as a market-based, project efficiency tool that helps to manage the complex sets of tasks and schedules associated with a large construction project.
PLAs often achieve cost savings by standardizing terms of the various crafts’ agreements in the area, including work hours, paid holidays and overtime; and by allowing for expanded use of apprentices.
According to a study of PLAs in New York State, this type of adjustments resulted in $44 million per year of cost savings to taxpayers from 2004 to 2009 for a project of the School Construction Authority.
In addition, PLAs produce indirect savings related to higher productivity and uninterrupted production resulting from no strike clauses and alternative dispute resolution procedures.
Over the last 15 years, CWAs have been utilized by coalitions of unions and community organizations to successfully advance employment and career models for demographic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the construction industry.
One of the main avenues through which local residents come into contact with these career training opportunities is a pre-apprenticeship program, such as the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.
Pre-apprenticeship programs are simply workforce training programs that prepare participants to apply for, enter and successfully complete a building trades apprenticeship program.
In short, they are a pathway into a middle class career in the construction industry.
Construction is an industry that will always need skilled workers. And it is one of the last remaining industries in the U.S. where the labor cannot be outsourced.
Economists and industry analysts are predicting a powerful surge in skilled craft labor demand over the next 15-20 years, as baby boomers retire and construction spending rises significantly. As a result, there is increasing opportunity for workers to enter apprenticeships.
Many people are drawn to the building and construction trades because they enjoy an active, hands-on job that contains variety, and is one in which they can physically see the outcome of their work. Others cite a deep satisfaction with being part of an important project in the community, or being trusted to tackle a challenging portion of a high-profile project that allows you to showcase your high level of skill.
The Union Advantage
It’s easy to find a job in construction, but becoming a skilled journey worker via a joint industry registered apprenticeship program is a career choice that will provide a lifetime of benefit.
Each union affiliated with North America's Building Trades Unions has its own apprenticeship program. In total there are over 30 specialized apprenticeship programs.
Unlike any other program of its kind, union apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn. Once you become an apprentice, you work and attend a specific number of hours of classroom training, for which you are also paid. This classroom training, which is directly related to what you do on the job, every day, provides safety and entry-level skills to get you started. On the jobsite, you work under a skilled journey worker , learning how to become the very best in your craft.
And training doesn’t stop when you reach journey-level status. In the union construction industry, all craft workers are strongly encouraged to continually upgrade their skills and further their education, learning and growing throughout their careers.
Multi-Craft Core Curriculum
In 2007, the National Standing Committee on Apprenticeship and Training of North America's Building Trades Unions identified common elements from all building trades' apprenticeship programs , without regard to a particular craft.
In other words, a "common core curriculum." This was the basis for the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum, which is increasingly being used as the foundation for pre-apprenticeship programs across America.
The specific topics that are taught in the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum include:
- General orientation to apprenticeship
- Intro to the construction industry
- CPR and first aid
- OSHA 10-hour safety certification
- Blueprint reading
- Applied mathematics for construction
- Identifying and preventing sexual harassment and discrimination
- History of the construction industry
- The heritage of the American worker
- How to interview effectively
- Green construction techniques and standards
The Multi-Craft Core Curriculum provides a gateway to a career in any of the Building Trades; from high school to joint registered apprenticeship to community and four-year college and beyond.