Cornell University Report Lauds Construction Skills Training Model

An excerpt from "Project Labor Agreements in New York State II: In the Public Interest and of Proven Value"

"Construction Skills places New York City high school graduates, veterans, women, and economically disadvantaged workers into apprenticeship programs of unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council. As of April 2010, 1,141 City residents have been placed into Apprenticeship programs.

"With a retention rate above 80%, the program is a major reason for the broad diversity of the metropolitan New York construction workforce: African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians from the five boroughs today represent a majority of new union members in the area’s trades.

"Pre-apprenticeship programs prepare high school seniors from New York City’s public schools with both classroom and hands-on training for a “direct track” into union-sector apprenticeships. Construction Skills puts a strong emphasis on career counseling for high school seniors. Participating high school seniors must meet regularly with staff and receive individualized coaching and advice relevant to the trade of their choice."

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Paul E. Fernandes
President and CEO

Dennis Ippolito

4th Year apprentice
Tile, Marble, Terrazzo
Local 7
CSkills Class of 2006 School of Co-Op Tech

David Joachim, a 4th year apprentice, has been working in the unionized construction industry since he graduated from Construction Skills in 2006.

David grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended The School of Cooperative Technical Education (Co-op Tech) because he enjoyed working with his hands and was interested in learning a trade.
David decided to pursue a career in the unionized construction industry after he found out about Construction Skills through Co-op Tech. Although receiving admission to the Construction Skills program was very competitive, David had the grades required. Following his admission into Construction Skills, David was referred for an interview at the tile setters and was offered the opportunity to become an apprentice. 

A typical work day starts at 6:45 am. Usually, David says he shows up to the shanty first thing in the morning and starts his day’s work. Even though skateboarding for 9 years has taken a toll on his body, he says the trades have as well because the work itself is quite a workout.

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2ND Year apprentice
Roofers & Waterproofers
Local 8
William H. Maxwell High School
CSkills Class of 2008
New York City Housing Authority Resident

Kanei Smith, a member of Roofers & Waterproofers Local 8, has been working in the unionized construction industry since she graduated from Construction Skills in 2008.

Kanei pursued a career in the unionized construction industry because she’s always been good with her hands and because most of the women in her family are in the construction industry. She’s passionate about demolition and working with machinery.

A typical day for Kanei consists of working with a crew that feels like family, “ We communicate very well, we laugh and joke throughout the day which makes the day go quicker. But it’s still hard work. It’s definitely a workout. I don’t think I have to join the gym! A typical day for me is being dirty.” Usually, Kanei leaves for work at 5:15 a.m, gets to work at 6:30 a.m. and starts the work day at 7:00 a.m. When asked what she enjoys most about her work, Kanei responded, “Everything! I enjoy the workout, the people, the experience of learning new things every day.” Although she sometimes feels nervous about heights, it doesn’t stop her from doing it.

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Through June 2011, Construction Skills is proud to have placed 1,209 New York City residents into union apprenticeship programs.

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New York, New York 10010