“Everyone here has been very helpful. I’m already in the laborer’s union, but I’m checking out all the trades,” Holliday said. “I definitely recommend this to my friends, but I don’t think they really know about it. I saw this event on Facebook, but I didn’t see it anywhere else.”
Walt Bentley, who serves on the apprentice training committee for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 5, said that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s just a question of getting the word out that people should be checking out these careers,” he said. “There is so much work out there, and that means a lot of opportunities.”
Bentley said the IBEW will take applications for its next apprentice class in March. Testing follows in April, and then following an interview process, the top third are accepted. An added bonus, he noted, is that those completing the program simultaneously earn an associate’s degree from CCAC.
Sylvia Elsayed, director of CCAC’s learning space at the Energy Innovation Center, said the college has degree arrangements with several trade unions, as well as training programs geared toward the region’s growing energy industry.
“We are also excited about our new Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning program, which starts at the center in January,” she said.
DeWitt Walton, County Councilman and vice president of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute’s Pittsburgh chapter, was thankful for the opportunity to promote the institute’s career training.
“Every graduate from our program exceeds industry expectations and 62 percent are placed within the first year,” he said. “McAuley Ministries needs to be recognized for its commitment to battling underemployment in the Hill and in Pittsburgh. They are leading the charge.”
Part of leading that charge included partnering with agencies like FOCUS and the Hill House that can connect individuals to the wrap around services that enable them to take full advantage of workforce training opportunities.
In some cases that means overcoming employment barriers resulting from a criminal history. To that end, Allegheny County Public Defender Elliot Howsie and Duquesne University Law Professor Tracy McCants Lewis gave presentations on how to get criminal records sealed, expunged or even vacated by a governor’s pardon.
“It’s an ongoing issue,” said Howsie. “Once someone has paid their debt to society, what will society do to let them go on with their lives?”
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