Programs that recruit more non-traditional workers receive $1 million in grants

Apprenticeship programs for barbers, painters, coders, lab techs, and others will get a boost.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Programs that lead future barbers, painters, coders, and laboratory technicians through pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs received grants, Philadelphia Works announced last week.

The local grants, awarded April 9 to 12 organizations for both capacity-building and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, total $1 million. About a third of the funding was allocated to five building trades, most of which rarely get these kinds of grants.

“These grants will allow them to recruit more heavily for non-traditional workers, such as women and minorities,” said Tony Wigglesworth, executive director of the Philadelphia Area Labor Management Committee, a nonprofit that works with the region’s building trades. “It’ll give them the resources to do more outreach.”

Building trades have traditionally operated apprenticeship programs, funded by contributions from employers and journeyman workers. These new grants will allow the unions to develop pre-apprentice programs and to build capacity. One of the recipients, the Finishing Trades Institute, can confer college credits. It is operated by District 21 of the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades.

“Apprenticeship is extremely beneficial to the employer and the apprentice,” said Cheryl Feldman, executive director of the District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, which has developed nontraditional apprenticeship programs for behavioral health support staff and early childhood educators. The fund received an $85,000 grant for apprentice and pre-apprentice programs and a $50,000 capacity-building grant.

“Rather than hiring someone off the street” who may not be a good match for the job, she said, employers can shape the training. “For the apprentice, there is the opportunity to become employed in a position for which they may not have qualified and earn wages while learning the skills and competencies to become fully qualified.”

Like the District 1199C Training Fund, the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children also works with apprenticeship programs to train early childhood educators. The association, which received a $49,600 capacity-building grant, focuses on training classroom teachers who mentor early childhood education apprentices.

With the training, “these mentors are becoming master teachers and are able to coach other teachers in their programs,” in addition to the apprentices they are supervising, said Carol Austin, executive director.

Apprenticeships differ from internships or shadowing experiences in that they must be registered with the state or federal government. To qualify, the course of study must be approved and the program must include a certain number of hours of classroom training and supervised on-the-job training. The apprentices are paid employees from the start and receive regular wage increases as their skills build.

“In Philadelphia, there is a rising tide of organizations and industries that now see the value of building viable career pathways to find and recruit talented employees,” Philadelphia Works chief executive H. Patrick Clancy said in a statement.

The $1 million in grants awarded to local agencies through Philadelphia Works is part of $3.5 million in workforce funding distributed by the state to area workforce investments boards. That money, in turn, is part of the $50 million PAsmart career pathways program proposed by Gov. Wolf earlier this year.

“Apprenticeships are incredibly important, as they connect the people who want to learn new career skills with the companies and industries that need highly trained employees,” Wolf said in a statement. “We propose to invest a total of $50 million in PAsmart, including $7 million to help double the number of registered apprentices in the commonwealth by 2025.”

Here are the groups that received grants:

  • A Road to Success – Cosmetology and Barber Program – $56,080 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant.
  • Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children – $49,600 capacity-building grant.
  • District 1199c – $85,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant and $50,000 capacity-building grant.
  • Finishing Trades Institute – $80,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant.
  • International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local #14 – $75,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant.
  • International Association of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 19 – $62,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant and $45,495 capacity-building grant.
  • International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 – $45,495 capacity-building grant.
  • JEVS Human Services – $99,956.60 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant and $49,996 capacity-building grant.
  • Philadelphia Carpenters JATC – $50,000 capacity-building grant.
  • Urban Technology Project – $75,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant and $45,495 capacity-building grant.
  • The Wistar Institute – $85,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant.
  • Zhang Sah – $45,495 capacity-building grant.