Program helps Cleveland residents enter construction unions
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, November 2006) In the fall of 2003 Cleveland City Council President Frank Jackson laid the groundwork for legislation requiring Cleveland residents receive 20% of the jobs on construction projects when the city of Cleveland contributed $100,000 or more. Talks between the construction trade unions and Cleveland City Council focused on whether local unions would have enough Cleveland residents to qualify the unions for those contracts.  The result of those discussions was the creation of a program to help move Clevelanders into the high paying jobs in the construction trades. That program, the Union Construction Industry Partnership - Apprenticeship Skill Achievement Program (UCIP-ASAP), started in October of 2003, and it is now a key component in Mayor Frank Jackson Administration’s strategy to improve the economic conditions faced by Cleveland residents.

In its first three years of operation, UCIP-ASAP has held ten eight week classes to introduce applicants to the construction trades and prepare them to enter an apprenticeship with one of the construction unions. The first ten UCIP-ASAP classes combined to produce 129 graduates, 99 of which were placed in union apprenticeships. The 99 graduates of the program were placed in 15  of  the 20 different construction union locals participating in the program – a placement rate of 77%. Graduates were placed as apprentices in the bricklayers, carpenters cement masons, electricians, floor layers, glaziers, iron workers, laborers (two different locals – 310 & 860), operating engineers, painters, pipefitters, roofers, sheet metal workers, and telecommunication installers.

Nadine Champaigne, who administers UCIP-ASAP for the construction trade unions, says the program’s goal is to produce 20 graduates per class and three classes per year. She says UCIP-ASAP has three classes a year in year and each class can accommodate 20 to 25 students per class. Thus far she says classes have averaged about 15 students.

The eight week program exposes participants to the various unions and helps its graduates to get into the trade they would like to enter provided it is a trade for which they qualify.
Local trade unions have agreed to each reserve three slots in their apprenticeship programs for UCIP-ASAP graduates. The union apprenticeships range from two to five years.

Most also require a certain number of hours on the job and in the classroom to qualify for journeyman status.

Last year, Rich Haborak, a member of the pipefitters union, who worked as a program coordinator at UCIP-ASAP in 2005, said that normally about 50% of apprentices don’t make it through the first and second years of a union apprenticeship program. He predicted that UCIP-ASAP grads would have a higher retention rate, based on their ability to show up on time for the eight week unpaid classroom experience.

In an informal review of 37 graduates from UCIP-ASAP’s first four classes, placed with various unions by October of 2004, Champaigne determined that after two years 21 graduates are still in their apprenticeships.  The retention rate after two years for UCIP-ASAP graduates is 57%.

Chaqmpaigne says 92% of those participating in UCIP-ASAP are Cleveland residents. Most of the participants in the program have been male. Champaigne estimates that only 3% of the participants have been female. Over 90% of the participants are African American.

Individual men and women eighteen years of age and older who have a high school diploma and live in Cuyahoga County can apply for the program. Champaign says those interested should come down to the UCIP-ASAP office at 3515 Prospect, Room 204, and fill out an application. The staff at the office will find out what assistance program the applicants qualify.  

Champaign says most of the program’s applicants qualify for United States Department of Labor Work Force Investment Act Funds to pay for the classes. The funds are administered by a joint city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County funded program called the Employment Connection. The Employment Connection works with UCIP-ASAP to help screen many applicants and makes referrals to the program.

Applicants to the program must pass an entrance examine to determine they can read at a 7th grade level and do 8th grade math. They also must pass a drug test. The UCIP-ASAP selection committee then reviews each applicant for admittance to the program.

The next USIP-ASAP class will begin in January of 2007.

For more information about UCIP-ASAP visit their office at 3515 Prospect Avenue or call 432-7037.


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