Missouri Works Initiative pre-apprenticeship programs win national recognition

Missouri Correspondent

TO BRIGHT FUTURES: Seventeen pre-apprentices graduated from the St. Louis Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, which recently won recognition from the North American Building Trades Unions as a registered comprehensive apprenticeship readiness program. Celebrating their bright new futures are (front row) Maurice Rogers; Asante “AJ” Williams; and Darion Murray; (center row) BUD Program Coordinator Aurora Bihler; Amir Williams; (name withheld); Melanie Breihan; Ki’Arra Franklin; Sharannah “Shay” Jones; Genevieve “Raine” McDevitt; and Jorge Morales Soriano; (last row): Starkeisha “Jolea” Tate; Gabriel Tolliver; Dwane Henry; Nixon Holloway; Jessica “Jess” Schrum; Samson Tatum; and Peyton Lopes. – Labor Tribune photo

Three Missouri Works Initiative pre-apprenticeship programs – the St. Louis Building Union Diversity (BUD) program and its Kansas City and Springfield versions – have been recognized by the North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU).

In fact, the three programs are the only pre-apprenticeship programs that made NABTU’s list of comprehensive apprenticeship readiness programs, Dr. John Gaal told attendees at the 27th St. Louis BUD cohort graduation Nov. 18 at the IBEW Local 1 union hall in St. Louis.

“That’s quite an accomplishment,” said Gaal, who serves as director for the Missouri Works Initiative’s Worker Wellness Program and has worked with the BUD program since it began St. Louis.

“I wrote about this program as my master’s degree thesis back in 1992, and it’s really cool to see something come alive. We’ve put a lot of people to work in careers, not just jobs.”

The BUD program was originally created by the St. Louis Building Trades Council to increase construction trade participation among traditionally under-represented groups, including minorities and women. It provides pre-apprentices with the opportunity to visit at local building trade unions to give them hands-on basic training and a feel for each of the trades.

Since then, the BUD program has had a 92 percent graduation rate, and of those who have graduated, 79.2 percent are minorities and 26.5 percent are women.

Based on the success of the BUD program and with the sponsorship and support of the Missouri AFL-CIO, the Missouri Works Initiative last year took over the work of replicating the St. Louis program’s training and recruiting model statewide. The initiative launched the Missouri Apprenticeship Readiness program – similar to the BUD program – this year in Kansas City and Springfield.

“There are a lot of good people who have stuck with this program for a really long time,” Gaal said. “The bottom line is we’re helping people, and we need help because there’s a workplace shortage.”

For more information, visit moworksinitiative.org.


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