Evidence that apprenticeship programs help the community and its people can be found all over Providence, in both the projects and the people Building Futures has helped bring together.
There’s Brian Pack who said he’s always worked “dead-end jobs” before Building Futures helped him learn a trade and join a union. Or Hassan Brown, of South Providence, who got his first decent construction job on a project at Brown University through Building Futures. Or Varsana Sihavong, whose career as a carpenter he owes to a Building Futures apprenticeship helping to build a CVS in northern Rhode Island.
“There just aren’t many programs out there that target my age group,” he said. “There are programs for teens, but very few for adults. It’s been a great opportunity.”
Building Futures, a partnership between the Prov Plan and organized labor, helps the construction industry in the Ocean State find new talent from inner city Rhode Island.
According to its website, “Building Futures is both a program that helps prepare low income men and women in urban areas for rewarding careers in the commercial construction and an initiative that partners to expand entry-level training opportunities in the trades through proven apprenticeship programs.”
Started in 2007, Building Futures and has trained more than 150 inner city adults to work in the construction industry. And according to members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, it’s the kind of program that needs to be expanded if the skills gap is to be eradicated and Rhode Island rebuilt for success.
“Building Futures is a terrific program that helps young people, especially those in low-income, urban communities, build the foundation for a career in commercial construction,” said Senator Jack Reed. “It is helping to close the skills gap by creating opportunities in the building trades through established apprenticeship programs.”
Congressman Jim Langevin said, “The skills gap has had a particularly significant impact on our state, preventing many individuals, especially those from underserved communities, from getting back to work. This partnership provides an excellent model to create employment opportunities and develop a qualified workforce to take advantage of them.”