By SHERI GASSAWAY
The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council’s Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, which cancelled sessions in April and June because of the coronavirus pandemic, plans to resume classes on Aug. 3.
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. The BUD program began in 2014 as a recruitment tool to encourage more minorities and women to get into the building trades.
BUD Program Director Russ Signorino said he’ll be working with local union apprenticeship programs over the next couple months to schedule the visits. He said most of the apprenticeship programs, which were cancelled because of the pandemic, should be reopening by the time the next BUD session begins.
“How many students we’ll be able to enroll in this next class and what precautions will be in place will be based on local and state coronavirus restrictions and the guidelines at the union apprenticeship centers,” he said.
Signorino said the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on the last BUD class because it happened around the same time the students would be attending their graduation ceremony – typically when many graduates are hired on the spot by contractors.
“BUD 19 had 17 students and we had to cancel their graduation because of the pandemic,” he said. “That’s when a lot of the training programs shut down and contractors temporarily stopped hiring.
“Only six of the 17 graduates are employed in the trades, but we’re working to change that with more contractors hiring again. It was a real struggle because the graduates were very enthused and ready to go.”
In its first four years, the BUD program has had an 87 percent placement rate among its graduates.
Interviews for the Aug. 4 BUD program will be held on July 31 and classes will run through Sept. 4. Graduation will take place on Sept. 9 or 10.
For more information, visit budprogram.com or call 314-303-6082.