U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was the keynote speaker at the Aug 30. Building Futures Apprenticeship Readiness Program graduation ceremony.
Building Futures held the graduation ceremony for the 25 members who completed Cohort Seven at the Firefighters Local 67 Union Hall.
Building Futures is a partnership between the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and Franklin County. The 12-week program helps participants of underserved communities overcome career barriers while setting them on a pathway to the middle class.
Program participants learn basic life skills and entry-level construction knowledge before they go to work for a union signatory contractor and receive direct entry into a registered building trades apprenticeship program.
Dorsey Hager, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive-Secretary served as the master of ceremonies.
During his opening remarks, Hager introduced Eli Wenzel, who was recently hired as the C/COBCTC’s Program Director.
Following a brief speech by Steve Stein, President of Columbus Firefighters Union Local 67, Brown addressed the graduates.
“I look around this room, and I see the future of our state – the future of work, the future of trade unions, the future of the middle class,” Brown said.
During his speech, he recalled Ohio’s history of losing middle-class jobs for over 40 years and the changes in recent years that are returning some of those jobs to Ohio.
“You shouldn’t have to leave town or leave Ohio to find a good-paying, rewarding job,” Brown said. “And you shouldn’t have to get a four-year degree and take on massive debt to join the middle class.
Programs like Building Futures are the answer, Brown added. He praised the program and its push to make good-paying, skilled union jobs accessible to everyone in the community.
Leland Bass, Creating Central Ohio Futures Chief Executive Officer, explained how Building Futures offers services as graduates transition into building trades apprentices and eventually become journeymen.
“By all accounts, this is the best class we have ever had,” Bass said. “Of the 25 graduates, 20 know where they are going to work tomorrow.”
Hager talked to the graduates about their future career opportunities and stressed the need to excel on the job and continue to grow so they can eventually become foremen, superintendents, estimators, or even start their own businesses as union contractors.
“With the region’s current building boom, your career possibilities are endless,” Hager said.