PHA Launches Improved Pre-Apprenticeship Program for Residents

Graduates will become full-time PHA employees

(Philadelphia, PA - August 12, 2013) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has launched a revamped Pre-Apprenticeship Program for its residents. This comprehensive job training course teaches participants skills in maintenance and repairs. Upon completion of the program, graduates will become full-time PHA employees. 

PHA's President & CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah, who committed to having PHA residents make up 25 percent of the agency's workforce, called the relaunch a major step forward, and a great effort to better position PHA residents for sustainable employment. 

"Our priority is to ensure that our residents have the opportunity to learn important skills and, most importantly, build a career so they can work towards self-sufficiency," said Jeremiah. "The new Pre-Apprenticeship Program emphasizes outcomes and seeks to correct the original program's shortcomings in job placement and retention. I want to thank the participating labor unions for working with PHA to make this a reality."

PHA entered into a pre-apprenticeship agreement with the Painters Union DC 21, Maintenance Mechanics Local 32BJ and Laborers Local 332.  Graduates of the Pre-Apprenticeship Program will also take the union exams to become members of their respective unions.

"We at SEIU 32BJ are proud to work with PHA in creating opportunities for low income Philadelphians; giving them the training needed to improve their lives, which will give residents the opportunity to become economically self-sufficient," said Wayne MacManiman Jr., Mid-Atlantic Area Leader, SEIU Local 32BJ.

"We are thrilled to be a partner in the new agreement between the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) / District Council 21 (DC21).  Additionally, we could not be more proud that our training entity, The Finishing Trades Institute, has been chosen to provide the initial eight week soft skills, math, literacy and green advantage preparatory training for all PHA apprenticeships now and in the foreseeable future.   With the full support of IUPAT General President, Ken Rigmaiden, District Council 21 is a proud local leader in the development of outreach programs, like this PHA partnership; which will give citizens from the tri-state area the opportunity to obtain careers that allow for family sustaining wages," said Joe Ashdale, Business Manager - District Council 21.

"I am excited the Laborers 332 can partner with PHA on this program," said Local 332 Business Manager Samuel Staten, Jr. "This is a clear win for the residents, the Union and the Authority. I want to commend Kelvin for taking this program to the next level by guaranteeing job placement for each graduate."

Participants in the program will receive eight weeks of pre-training, which will include an education boot camp for math and literacy, communications and leadership training, and a course in environment-friendly maintenance practices. The programming is provided free of charge under a grant awarded to the Painters Union by the U.S. Department of Labor.

After pre-training, participants will enter one of three tracks. Students interested in becoming maintenance mechanics will receive extensive training in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work over a period of 20 weeks.  Future laborers will train for six to seven weeks on equipment use and bed bug remediation.  Participants on the painting and allied trades track will spend 10 weeks in the program learning painting, drywall installation and plastering.

Most training will take place at PHA's Workforce Development Center in South Philadelphia but students will also have assignments at the unions' state-of-the-art training facilities.

To qualify for the program, applicants must pass a background check and drug test. Once accepted into the program, students may not miss more than two days of training.  PHA will provide intensive case management to ensure that residents can overcome any barriers to completing the program. Participants will earn $7.25 per hour while in the Pre-Apprenticeship Program.  Graduates will earn between $11.92 and $12.50 per hour in their first year as full-time apprentices at PHA, depending on their trade. Apprenticeships last for three years for maintenance mechanics and two years for laborers and painters.

The original PHA Pre-Apprenticeship Program, which began in 1999, was suspended in January 2013 due to a low number of participants passing the union exams and poor job placement results. Of the 832 graduates, only 400 successfully passed their union exams and only 232 received their union cards. Even fewer are currently working.

The new program guarantees graduates employment with PHA and continued training during their apprenticeships. 

Forty students are enrolled in the revamped program. To ensure small class sizes, the first group of 20 began on Monday, July 22, 2013, while a second class is expected to start after Labor Day.