The Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council (C/COBCTC) was honored with the Mark H. Ayers Community Achievement Award for the success of its Building Futures program at the 2023 North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference.
Building Futures is a 12-week program dedicated to helping members of underserved communities remove employment obstacles, receive life skills education and teach them the foundations of the construction industry in order to prepare them for a registered apprenticeship programs and a successful career in the union construction industry
Experience in the construction industry is not necessary or required to enter the Building Futures program.
On the second day of the Legislative Conference, a three-minute video was played to help the delegates understand what the Building Futures program is and what it does. Following the video, C/COBCTC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager, C/COBCTC Communications and Outreach Director Kelly Harrop and Creating Central Ohio Futures Program Director Leland Bass joined NABTU President Sean McGarvey and other dignitaries on stage to accept the award.
Named after a former NABTU President, the Mark H. Ayers Award was established to honor programs and individuals who have expanded, grown and opened doors to provide opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, social class or age.
Hager said he was proud NABTU recognized the C/COBCTC’s efforts to establish and then grow a successful Apprentice Readiness Program (ARP) for the Columbus area’s underserved communities.
“When I heard from NABTU that we were going to receive the award, I was pleasantly surprised,” he said. “The pride comes in helping those who may have never been given an opportunity in the trades.”
Hager also noted that the program’s partners were happy to learn about the national recognition.
“The Franklin County Commissioners remain proud of the work we have done and continue to do, and we’re happy to see that realized on a national stage in front of our union Brothers and Sisters from NABTU,” said Hager. “The NAACP and President Nana Watson remain our greatest advocate. She was there from day one and is excited about the potential of taking this program statewide and possibly nationally as well.”
Those who are accepted into the Building Futures program receive life skills training in financial literacy, math, reading and more, in addition to an introduction to the various trades in the construction industry.
Before entering the program, many Building Futures participants worked in low-wage positions, earning little more than minimum wage with few or no benefits. As an apprentice, they can earn significantly higher wages, plus excellent full-family healthcare and retirement benefits.
On Nov. 13, 2017, the C/COBCTC officially announced a partnership with the Franklin County Commissioners and a community organization group to create the Building Futures Program. Five months later, the first cohort completed the program, allowing the graduates to select and then join an area building trades registered apprenticeship program. Since that time, the program has helped hundreds of men and women transform their lives.
“Anytime you win a national award or receive praise or recognition, it gives your program credibility,” said Hager. “When we had our first event at Triedstone Baptist Church in November of 2018, many in the community were skeptical. Since that time, we have proved that we do what we say and we say what we do, which is to continue to reach out to all members of the underserved sections of our community to provide economic opportunities for all.”