10 of 14 graduates were women, the highest of any class so far
By SHERI GASSAWAY
The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council’s Building Union Diversity (BUD) program recently graduated its 20th class of pre-apprentices, and while things may have looked different from past graduation ceremonies, with masks and social distancing, excitement was in the air.
The event, which was one of the most well-attended graduations in recent history, was held at the IBEW Local 1 Union Hall in St. Louis, and tables spaced six feet apart lined the auditorium from front to back. Of the 14 graduates, 10 were women – the highest percentage of women to participate in a class at one time.
The BUD program began in 2014 as a recruitment tool to encourage more minorities and women to get into the building trades. The five-week program offers pre-apprentices the opportunity to visit local building trade unions to give them basic training and a feel for each of the trades.
BUD Program Director Russ Signorino said the graduates were able to visit six trades unions including Cement Masons Local 527, Missouri Kansas Laborers District Council, IBEW Local 1, Operating Engineers Local 513, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 and St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.
ADJUSTING TO PANDEMIC
“Organizing the class was somewhat of a struggle since there was a lot going on with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Signorino said. “We didn’t get to spend as much time at the training canters as we usually do, but the graduates were still able to gain an appreciation of what the trades are like.”
After the ceremony, pre-apprentices enjoyed a boxed lunch and were able to meet with local contractors and hiring managers who are recruiting and union representatives.
Normally, BUD offers four classes a year, but only two were held this year because of the pandemic, which hit in mid-March. The next BUD class will be held in 2021.
For more information, visit budprogram.com or call 314-303-6082.