Training Fund Continues to Invest in the Community & Its Workforce
The Central South Carpenters Regional Council Training Fund of Louisiana (The Training Fund) is improving its infrastructure and increasing efforts to recruit and train the next generation of skilled workers, regardless of circumstances encountered by these promising carpenters.
Located just outside of New Orleans, a brand new, 38,000-square-foot Training Center opened for business in October, providing additional hands-on and classroom instruction ability within the Metairie, LA structure.
Strong on community partnerships, the Training Fund’s recruitment efforts are supported by organizations such as Goodwill Industries, the Louisiana Workforce Committee, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections & Parole Office
The Training Fund also recently was awarded a 5-year grant renewal from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, to continue its pre-apprenticeship program under the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), Since 1995, the Training Fund and CPWR have partnered to operate the Environmental Construction & Pre-Apprenticeship Program (ECPAP).
ECPAP provides free training, job placement, and mentoring for the minority, unemployed and underemployed of the greater New Orleans area, focusing on providing construction and environmental contractors with a trained and qualified workforce pool.
Additionally, the program strives to enhance the quality of life of the trainees by increasing their employability, earning potential and self-esteem, regardless of circumstances.
Emmanuel Mitchell, Sr., a 1998 graduate of the New Orleans ECPAP, entered the program as a 19-year-old with a high school diploma and a little carpentry training. He was the first graduate of the program to reach journeyman status, and in time, attained supervisory positions. He remains a member of the ECPAP advisory board, was elected a Trustee of the Central South Carpenters Regional Council and most recently was hired by the Council as a Council Representative.
“This program enabled me to establish a good career and a great quality of life,” Mitchell said.
As an affiliate of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Training Fund leverages the UBC’s multi-million-dollar training program for local use. One of the most successful programs the Training Fund has used to help the region’s youth is the high school pre-apprenticeship program, Career Connections.
Presently there are two high schools in the region using the curriculum, and seven more considering the program.
Recruitment events at the newly opened Training Center provide detailed introductions to multiple trades, including carpentry, millwrighting, pile driving, welding, and safety-oriented careers in rigging, scaffolding, and nuclear access.
The Training Fund is now partnering with the U.S. Probation Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The Probation Office approached The Training Fund in 2015 to lead a pre-apprentice program for a select group of 20 parolees.
The first six-month program cycle was completed in December 2015, and a graduation ceremony will be held after the second cycle is complete in June 2016. After graduation, parolees can transition into a full apprenticeship program, and are given six months’ credit toward the traditional four-year apprenticeship. Graduates of the parolee program also receive practical items such as work clothing, books, tools, and safety equipment.
Ralph “Ron” Currington was looking for a job with opportunities for advancement, but he also knew that he needed to augment his training. Encouraged by his parole officer, he “jumped at the chance to sign up for the program” and he has never looked back. He completed the program in December 2015, recently got his union card, and is working with New Orleans Carpenters & Pile Drivers Local Union 1846.
ABOUT THE TRAINING CENTER
Just some of the enhancements that the new training center offers includes: State-of-the-art welding lab with equipment that can do stick welding, tig welding, mig welding, and gouging; New 30-foot ceilings accommodate scaffolding training; A 30-foot by 30-foot dirt pit for concrete form training. Previously, the training center could not house the scaffolding training, and it could offer training only in the stick method of welding.
Instructors also needed more versatile learning space that made sense for smaller instructor/student ratios, and the new facility has three small classrooms, each holding a dozen students, and one large classroom, holding 32 students. Flat-screen televisions have replaced pull-down projector screens, and iPads enable instructors to monitor real-time student activity and show students’ work to the whole class.
Louisiana Training Director Ray Calamari is immensely proud of the new training center that has dramatically increased their capacity and efficiency. “Our goal is to operate a facility where pre-apprentices, apprentices, and journeymen in all aspects of the carpentry trade increase their knowledge and advance their careers. It’s a benefit for the community, which gains more productive citizens; for the contractors, who gain ever-more skilled, safe, and productive workers; and for the regional economy, which needs the workers and the projects in order to keep moving forward.”
All of these benefits and results are available to young men and women in the greater New Orleans area, despite their economic circumstances or their walk in life, who want real career opportunities and the training to get–and keep–those careers.