Columbus Council awards grant to Building, Driving Futures programs

On March 28, Columbus City Council passed an ordinance to help fund projects for one of central Ohio’s most successful apprenticeship readiness programs.

The $400,000 grant will help upgrade training space and provide technology upgrades for the Columbus Building Futures and Driving Futures Programs.

The programs are a partnership between the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Columbus Urban League and Franklin County.

They were created to help members of the underserved communities and individuals who were formerly incarcerated overcome career-blocking obstacles in order to gain employment in the union construction industry or the union transportation industry.

The grant was technically awarded to the Columbus Urban League, who helps administer both programs, but the funds are earmarked specifically for the programs’ expansion and upgrades.

Following Intel’s January announcement that it would build a semiconductor plant in central Ohio, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager knew both programs needed to expand.

“We have to ramp up both programs,” Hager said. “More private companies want to ensure their project is being built by a diverse workforce that represents the community.”

Building Futures is a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program and no experience in the construction industry is necessary or required to apply. Those who complete the program will immediately go to work for a signatory contractor and begin an apprenticeship with a selected building trades Local Union affiliated with the C/COBCTC. This career pathway will provide participants with a great starting wage, health benefits and retirement benefits.

Driving Futures is an eight-week program where men and women receive training and career placement after they earn their Class A Commercial Driver’s License. It helps fill critically needed positions while creating true economic mobility for participants. These jobs also provide a great starting wage, health and retirement benefits.

Columbus City Councilman Rob Dorans, a member of the IBEW who serves as Chief Legal Counsel for Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Ohio, sponsored the legislation, which passed by a unanimous vote.

Rob Dorans

ACT Ohio Chief Legal Counsel and Columbus City Councilman Rob Dorans

Dorans noted the central Ohio construction market was already booming before the Intel announcement, and there was already a need for Building Futures and Driving Futures graduates.

“This massive long-term investment [Intel] will help make sure that there are work opportunities for building trades members and those entering the trades through Building Futures Programs for decades to come,” he said.

The grant will support the continued renovation of the Driving Futures training facility, located at the Teamsters Local 284 Union Hall. Work will include a technical classroom for Building Futures and a traditional classroom for Driving Futures. It will create a dedicated training space for participants and staff to allow for the highest level of training with advanced technology and innovative instructional delivery.

Hager has seen both Building and Driving Futures programs steadily grow, and he believes the grant is the first step to not only increase the class size, but potentially increase the number of cohorts offered each year.

“I thank Councilman Rob Dorans for being a strong supporter of the Building Futures and Driving Futures Programs,” said Hager. “He understands the impact they have in helping members of the underserved community secure good paying jobs that will lead them down the pathway to a middle-class lifestyle.”

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