Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a graduation ceremony in honor of the first graduating class of the STRIVE Construction Skills program, created by the City to prepare workers for jobs in the construction trades. The STRIVE program is based on a recommendation from the Mayor’s Commission on Construction Opportunity to create a pipeline to unionized jobs in construction for people who lack the requisite job skills and/or a high school diploma. The program’s 54 graduates – including 23 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents – will move on to a pre-apprenticeship program, Construction Skills 2000, in preparation for a full apprenticeship with a construction trades union. The Mayor’s Commission on Construction Opportunity was formed in March 2005, and charged with exploring strategies and setting goals for ensuring that all New Yorkers, particularly minorities, women, returning veterans and recent high school graduates, are well-prepared and have the opportunity to gain access to new permanent jobs in construction. During his remarks, the Mayor provided a status update on many of the Commission’s ten initiatives that were announced in October 2005. STRIVE Executive Director Lizzette Dunn-Barcelona, STRIVE graduate speaker Rayvon DeBerry along with his fellow STRIVE graduates and their families, and members of the Commission attended the ceremony at Gracie Mansion.
“New York City is at the dawn of an exciting period of economic growth and we are well positioned to take advantage of what we expect will be one of the biggest construction booms in our history,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Over the next 30 years, the City’s major construction projects will generate many new jobs, and we want to ensure that these solid, permanent jobs go to New Yorkers, especially minorities, women, returning veterans, recent high-school graduates and those who have lacked stable employment. The STRIVE Program is a critical component in achieving these goals, and I salute this first graduating class and the work of the Commission.”
Since the Commission was formed, it has forged consensus around a set of policy actions and has begun to implement a series of key recommendations. Central to the Commission’s recommendations was an agreement with construction trade unions that 40% of apprentice slots created within a given year be dedicated toward its target audience beginning in 2006.
Today’s ceremony is the result of a partnership between STRIVE, an internationally recognized workforce development agency focused on individual and community empowerment through employment, the City’s Department of Education, and Construction Skills 2000 (CS2K), a pre-apprentice program administered by the Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Building Trades Employers Association. The graduates participating in today’s event have completed the first two milestones – STRIVE work readiness and GEDs for those who did not already have a high school diploma – and have now “moved up” to the CS2K component of the program.
Previously, CS2K only focused on high school graduates. However, as a result of the Commission’s work, CS2K has agreed to expand its mission to prepare other individuals for the construction trades, providing them with eight months of intensive job training and the opportunity to pursue a high school equivalency degree. Program participants receive a stipend to enable them to spend their full time in training. The program began at the end of January with STRIVE and DOE providing work readiness training and GED preparedness. Program participants completed STRIVE at the end of June and are now in the pre-apprentice training provided by CS2K, which is scheduled to end in August. With the successful completion of CS2K, graduates will be eligible to enter directly into apprentice programs this fall.
“I think all of us involved with this program understand that the best way to combat poverty and provide economic hope is through a job,” said U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who has been actively working with the Mayor to increase opportunities in the construction industry. “These students have worked hard and now have the skills that will enable their talent to blossom. Not only will they better our construction industry, but their success will expand opportunities for future generations of New Yorkers.”
“The Mayor’s Commission on Construction Opportunity was formed to create real opportunities for minorities, women and veterans in the construction industry,” said Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. “Working with the Commission, the STRIVE Program has now trained its first class of New Yorkers for promising careers in the booming construction industry. I congratulate STRIVE’s first graduating class and look forward to congratulating many more in the future.”
Since being established, the Commission has also had a number of other successes based on its recommendations:
- The City agreed to dedicate a new $45 million, 1,000 seat high school – The High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture – that will administer a curriculum that emphasizes all dimensions of the building trades along with preparing students for Regents and post-secondary education. The school, which will be located in Ozone Park, Queens, is 90% complete and will accept its first class of 9th graders this September.
- The City University of New York (CUNY) is working with leaders from the construction contracting industry to create a curriculum focused on preparing students for managerial and administrative jobs within the construction industry including cost estimators, project managers, and administrative assistants. These jobs represent approximately 23% of jobs within the construction industry. CUNY will work with the contracting industry to connect students with internships and permanent jobs. This program will begin September 2006 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). BMCC, in partnership with the Building Trades Employers Association, will offer a technical skills training program for Construction Project Job Schedulers this September. The program is being funded by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.
- To assist with the recruitment of women into the construction trades, the City is collaborating with Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), a construction skills pre-apprentice program for women, on a public service announcement campaign utilizing bus shelters and phone kiosks to encourage women to enter the construction trades. The first phase of this campaign occurred from November through March, with the City providing nearly $1 million worth of free advertising space on bus shelters and phone kiosks throughout the City for public service announcements created by NEW. The campaign resulted in a 400% increase in the number of phone calls that NEW received about its program. The same public service announcement campaign will run in the City’s subways and buses this summer.
- The New York State Department of Labor now allows graduates of NEW to enter directly into union apprenticeships, reducing the amount of time graduates would wait to access such programs.
- Developers of the Atlantic Yards, Bronx Terminal Market, Columbia University’s expansion, Moynihan Station, East River Science Park and the Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center properties to be developed by Silverstein Properties have committed to pursue the following initiatives:
- Provide mentoring and training programs to minority and women-owned business enterprises.
- Establish good faith goals for hiring of women, and pursue an overall goal of, over time, staffing 15% of the journeyperson and apprenticeship positions with women.
- Fund a compliance officer to monitor implementation of these items as well as ensure provision of a safe workplace.
- The City is enhancing its enforcement of Executive Order 50, which gives the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) the authority to monitor EEO compliance and workforce diversity on public contracts and certain private commercial projects receiving public assistance. SBS has begun to review and upgrade its EO 50 technological and operational capabilities, and new staff will be added in the Summer and Fall of 2006.
- Demographic information on pre-apprentices, apprentices and journey people is currently tracked by relevant service providers but in keeping with the recommendation to provide an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the Commission’s initiatives, SBS will issue an RFP late this summer for a comprehensive, multi-year “tracking study” to identify and track the demographics and career progress of individuals who enter a New York State Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program during the period of 2006 through 2010. Tracking apprentices over this period will generate much-needed data describing the demographic, employment characteristics, and career trajectory of apprentices.
- The City has taken steps to reduce the exploitation of workers and ensure fair bidding among contractors by increasing the City’s capacity to enforce prevailing wage laws. Last fall, the Mayor issued Executive Order 73, which strengthened the enforcement of prevailing wage requirements and provided additional tools to City agencies to enable them to prevent violations of these wage laws.
The Construction Commission continues to meet to monitor the implementation of these initiatives and discuss and develop additional recommendations. The Construction Commission is co-chaired by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff and Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis Walcott, and now has thirty-five members including private developers and contractors, minority and women-owned businesses, union representatives, advocates, and government officials. The Construction Commission has met six times to date, and its next meeting will be in October 2006.