IN MEMORIAM (June 2020):  WHDC is sad to report that one of our dear members of the Fall 2019 cohort of Pathways to Apprenticeship has passed. Mr. Michael Brunner, 40, truly lit up the room as his presence sparked joy and encouragement for his classmates. We share in the grief of the large family he left behind, including his two young daughters, and hope the loving memories of Michael’s bright light of a short-lived life will bring some comfort. He was there.

A pre-apprenticeship program for minorities, women and Upper Manhattan residents has graduated its second cohort, opening doors through training and a direct feed to apply for union apprenticeship opportunities in New York City’s burgeoning construction industry.

The program in West Harlem is one of many that Pathways to Apprenticeship (P2A) operates across the city to help people from low-income communities gain access to union construction apprenticeships. West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) provides financial support as well as training space at its West Harlem Skills Training Center, with the New York City Small Business Services (SBS) providing additional funding. Columbia University provides interview space and outreach support, as well as hosting the graduation ceremonies.

The five-week, full-time pre-apprenticeship program for Upper Manhattan certifies participants with the key skills and required safety trainings needed to qualify for an apprenticeship opportunity with local construction unions, setting them on a career path toward stable jobs with good benefits. Of the first cohort, 23 students (the vast majority of them West Harlem residents) graduated on December 4th at a ceremony hosted by Columbia University.

Pathways to Apprenticeship is honored to work with such great partners in the community of Harlem,” said P2A Executive Director Lavon Chambers. “Together we will be creating pathways into the middle class. Our graduates will embark on a union career that will help them financially sustain themselves and their families.

None of this would be possible without our union building trade affiliates and union contractors sharing our vision. We will continue to serve Harlem and create opportunities for those who enter into the building trades,” continued Chambers.

As the second Upper Manhattan cohort completed the program, P2A has scheduled interviews with local construction unions so the newly minted graduates can apply for available apprenticeships. P2A tracks construction apprenticeship openings with unions citywide, and has established a network of peer mentors who provide graduates with résumé assistance, interview coaching, and aptitude test preparation.  

We are gratified by the successful collaboration among Columbia University, Pathways to Apprenticeship, Small Business Services, and West Harlem Development Corporation,” said Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, WHDC Executive Director. “Together, we are achieving outcomes that have the potential to catapult disconnected members of our community into middle-class livelihood. It is simply exciting!

Check out these photos from the second cohort’s graduation on December 4, 2019.

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