The Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills, a pre-apprenticeship program offered
through The Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC), will host its
Building Futures Breakfast on Sept. 7.
The program, which provides the first point of access to a construction union to workers across
the city, has helped boost the trades council’s diversity efforts. During the fundraising breakfast,
the program’s leadership will honor labor industry and government leaders and discuss their
Many unions affiliated with the BCTC have apprenticeship programs, which provide the training
curriculum and on-site opportunities as a necessary first step of joining in the union. But in some
construction unions there’s often a long queue of applicants competing to get in through a
That’s where the pre-apprentice program comes in. It’s a five- or 10-week training opportunity
that allows qualified candidates direct entry into a union apprenticeship program.
“What construction skills does is work to develop a skilled workforce,” said Nicole Bertran, the
program’s executive vice president. “It delivers candidates with a high likelihood of success and
contributes to building a construction trades council diversity and inclusion efforts.”
For the students, it offers a way to learn more about the industry and get their foot in the door.
For the unions, it boosts retention rate as well as diverse recruitment — a goal of the trades
The Construction Skills initiative offers both an adult program that accepts around 240
participants and a youth version that takes 120 participants and is composed of New York City
public high school seniors.
The youth program relies on guidance counselors and other staff to refer students at career and
technical education high schools to apply for the program.
The adult program is operated through the city’s Workforce1 career platform and opens
applications in targeted zip codes that the city has identified as low income. In those zip codes,
anyone can apply for the program, but by going out into those low-income areas of the city, the
union council has successfully brought in diverse cohorts of people to the apprentice program.
The trades council said that 89 percent of Construction Skills graduates placed into union
apprenticeship programs self identify as nonwhite. Its 80 percent retention rate has resulted in a
more diverse workforce, with nonwhite members representing the majority of its graduates.
“They’re getting access to an understanding of the industry. So when they leave our program,
they’ve developed hard skills, like hands-on training or math,” said Bertran, “but the essential
skills piece is critical because there’s so much about the industry that people don’t understand.”
Bertran said there’s a lot of “dinner table conversation” that journeyman and retired journeyman
instructors tell students about less intuitive aspects of what to expect from union membership
and how to succeed throughout an apprenticeship program.
The program also offers a modest stipend designed to help people cover entrance requirements
or buy tools and clothing, and also offer Metro card assistance.
Bertran, who works with students once they’ve completed their training said that “the best part
of my job is getting to connect people to an opportunity and see them flourish.”