Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier, Pennsylvania Senator Vincent Hughes, and Pennsylvania Senator Anthony Williams today visited the Samuel Staten, Sr. Pre-Apprenticeship Program (SSSPAP) in Philadelphia, one of 14 registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs recently awarded grant funding through Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative. The pre-apprenticeship program aims to increase representation of women and people of color in the building and construction trade unions in and around Philadelphia and prepare participants to enter apprenticeship career pathways, an effort designed by members of the Philadelphia Building Construction Trade (BCT) unions.
In July, Gov. Wolf announced awards, offered through L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO), totaling more than $4.9 million for registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania to develop diverse talent pipelines, reach underrepresented populations, and expand workforce development opportunities within the building and construction trades.
“Pennsylvania’s economic future depends on a well-educated and highly-trained workforce, an effort made possible by apprenticeship – a workforce development model that is most effective when it is accessible to workers of all backgrounds,” Secretary Berrier said. “L&I applauds the Samuel Staten, Sr. Pre-Apprenticeship Program and the work it’s doing to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion within the building and construction trades and to expand opportunities for communities that have historically faced barriers to access.”
The pre-apprenticeship program was named in honor of Samuel Staten, Sr., a former construction laborer, field representative, and retired business manager for Laborers’ Local 332, a Philadelphia-based labor union, who created the Philadelphia Revitalization and Education Program (PREP) in 1994 to provide labor union career pathways for public housing tenants. Through business partnerships with BCT and the General Building Contractors Association (GBCA), as well as community partnerships like Philadelphia Works, the Samuel Staten, Sr. Pre-Apprenticeship Program is modeled after the Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP). The DAP was established in 1999 by Staten, educators, laborers, and community leaders to expand opportunities for African Americans to enter the Philadelphia Building Construction unions and was successful in placing more than 400 individuals of color and women into the construction trade unions and more than 380 individuals in non-construction jobs.
“We’ve all seen, firsthand, the ways in which labor jobs that pay family-sustaining wages can change lives,” said Ryan Boyer, Business Manager for Laborers District Council of Metropolitan Philadelphia and Vicinity. “Our pre-apprenticeship program, named in honor of one of the true icons of the Philadelphia labor movement, creates a pathway for members of the African-American community to successfully enter the building trades. It is a program of which we are extremely proud, and this grant will help us continue to grow and serve even more individuals. Make no mistake, well-paying labor jobs create generational change, not only for our members but for our communities.”
APPRENTICESHIPS UNDER THE WOLF ADMINISTRATION
Established in 2016, the ATO supports and expands registered pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs statewide. As one part of Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart framework, the office provides outreach, education, and technical support to current and prospective program sponsors and apprentices. The ATO aims to expand the apprenticeship model to non-traditional occupations and ensure opportunities are available to under-represented and underserved communities across Pennsylvania. The ATO currently supports more than 17,000 active apprentices, nearly 5,000 new apprentices, and more than 1,580 active occupation-specific apprenticeship programs around the commonwealth.
The Wolf Administration designed this grant opportunity in anticipation of increased employment opportunities within the building and construction trades as a result of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden in November 2021.
L&I estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $70,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who don’t graduate from an apprenticeship program. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.
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