In late February, 11 members of the third Building Futures pre-apprenticeship program graduated, allowing them to begin a new phase of their lives as building trades apprentices.
The Building Futures program, a partnership between Franklin County, the C/COBCTC and IMPACT Community Action, equips members of underserved communities with life-skills and teaches them basic construction skills in order to prepare them for a building trades apprenticeship. It serves to help participants overcome any challenges preventing them from beginning a career in the building trades, while showing them a pathway to live a middle-class life.
“I’m very proud of this group,” said C/COBCTC Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager. “Their success is now in their hands. We’re giving them all the tools to be successful.
“If you show up every day, on time, give maximum effort, listen to what you are told and apply yourself, then you can be on a direct path to the middle class in the building trades,” he added.
Hager cited recent statistics that showed the economic impact from the first two Building Futures graduating classes to the county from wages and benefits was just over $1.4 million. He noted though, the program is just not about teaching participants skills needed to work in construction, it teaches them important life skills such as financial literacy, math and reading.
“One Building Futures graduate works at the Facebook jobsite and is bringing home over $1,500 a week. That is a six-year project, so over the course of six-years, he is looking to bring home over half a million dollars,” said Hager. “Financial literacy is very important because he has to stock money away in the good times to use in the bad times, but to also take care of his car, family, housing, clothing, tools, all that stuff.
“A lot of people in the underserved community and many who enter our apprenticeship programs have never made more than $8 per hour. When they’re out on the jobsite earning $16 per hour, it’s like hitting the lottery and they don’t know how to act, so the financial literacy piece is huge,” he added.
Class graduate Terrance Webber, who will enter an apprenticeship with Laborers’ Local 423, called Building Futures a blessing.
“I was at my lowest point and now I’m on a pathway to the middle class,” said Webber. It’s a blessing for me and my family.”
“This program means the world, it is life changing,” graduate Juan Smith said. “When you work jobs your whole life and finally get the opportunity to have a career, there’s nothing like it.”
Franklin County Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce spoke during the ceremony and told graduates they were being provided an opportunity and now must make the most of it.
“We are here to celebrate your accomplishments, but more importantly, turn on the lights to the pathway of your future,” he said. “It’s a celebration of your work, your future and most importantly, your commitment and partnership with this great community.”
Boyce said the county needs a skilled construction workforce, as recent studies show Franklin County will grow by an additional 1 million residents over the next 30 years.
“There is value to describe the growth of the region and need to prepare our residents to be a part of a growing workforce,” Boyce added. “From construction to roadway improvements and other infrastructure, we are going to need skilled talent to help this community grow and that’s why Building Futures is such a key catalyst to that.”
Leeland Bass, Employers Relations Manager with IMPACT, told graduates their hard work is just beginning.
“The training wheels are coming off, Bass said. “Now when the alarm clock wakes you up at 5 or 6 a.m., you cannot reach over and fall asleep, but get up and go to work. When it’s cold outside, hot or raining, you have to be the one to get up and do what you are supposed to do in order to better yourself, provide for your family and providing a better opportunity for everyone who comes behind you in this program.”
Marilyn Brown, President of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, said the program has done a wonderful job changing people’s lives, as some graduates of the first two Building Futures classes went from being homeless to joining the middle class.