With large numbers of the current U.S. construction workforce facing retirement within the next five to ten years, many companies, even entire industries, are concerned about how to recruit and train the next generation of craft workers.

One answer may lie in the unique relationship between LIUNA Training and Education Fund and YouthBuild USA. The two organizations have been working together to develop direct entry criteria for YouthBuild graduates interested in joining the construction industry and to promote local partnerships between LIUNA Training affiliates and YouthBuild USA affiliates.  In addition to helping repopulate the craft workforce, this relationship will provide a clear pathway to employment for low-income young people who are looking for careers in the construction industry with wages that will put them into the economic mainstream.

In 2014, LIUNA Training and YouthBuild USA entered into a national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that established both organizations’ desire and commitment to work together to build a national pre-apprenticeship to apprenticeship pipeline for underrepresented youth. One of the main goals of the partnership was to help link local YouthBuild chapters with LIUNA apprenticeship sponsors aimed at supporting the direct entry of qualified YouthBuild graduates into LIUNA apprenticeship programs. This would provide youth in communities across the nation with access to solid middle-class construction careers. Since November 2014 to date ten local agreements have been signed between YouthBuild and LIUNA and six of these have resulted in placements. Emboldened by these successes, the national directors of LIUNA Training and YouthBuild USA held a meeting during the National Apprenticeship Week recommitting to the partnership and to explore future joint ventures and fresh new ideas for collaboration.

YouthBuild USA is a national support center for 264 YouthBuild programs across the country that engage nearly 10,000 low-income young adults each year where they work toward a GED or high school diploma while learning job skills and earning an allowance by building affordable housing in their communities.  About one-third of them are female; 97% are young people of color, many of whom have also been court involved.  Thirty percent of YouthBuild graduates end up going into the construction industry.

“I’m inspired by the possibilities and our partnership.” said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA. “Together we can make a difference in the lives of many more young people.”

LIUNA Training is the training arm of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, offering the best adult education for the construction workforce.   LIUNA Training develops curriculum, trains and certifies instructors, and offers support for 70 affiliated training centers located throughout the United States and Canada. By opening the door to opportunity, LIUNA Training helps apprentices and journey workers improve and add to their skills, advance their careers and gain a competitive advantage in a tough marketplace. 

“This innovative partnership represents our commitment to the industry and to workforce development,” said John LeConche, Executive Director of the LIUNA Training and Education Fund.  “We look forward to working with YouthBuild USA to help us prepare the workforce of tomorrow for rewarding careers in construction.”

According to the American Job Training Investments letter from the United States Department of Labor, hands-on apprenticeships are one of the clearest paths to a good, secure middle-class job.  In fact, 87 % of apprentices are employed after completing their programs and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is over $50,000.