Apprenticeship programs run jointly by unions of working people and construction firms offer aspiring tradespeople the ability to earn family-sustaining wages and benefits and a hands-on, debt-free education. The unionized construction sector presents tremendous opportunities in raising the wealth within communities of color and women-led households. Despite greater efforts by advocates to attach diversity workforce goals to construction projects to increase the number of women and people of color entering careers in the trades, achieving those goals has been an uphill battle.
Jobs With Justice Education Fund and the Tradeswomen Committee of North America’s Building Trades Unions offer a new roadmap for advocates and policymakers who seek to achieve more diversity and open more career opportunities in construction. Building Career Opportunities for Women and People of Color: Breakthroughs in Construction examines how the University of Massachusetts Boston campus and Minnesota Vikings stadium projects met and exceeded targeted workforce goals. The report details a range of strategies employed by stakeholders on both projects for expanding the pipeline of diverse tradespeople, and for creating a welcoming work environment to retain this workforce.
Nearly 60 tradespeople, community activists, government staff, union leaders, and contractors involved in these two major publicly-funded construction projects were interviewed. Key findings include that the range of groups involved must be unified around a vision where women and people of color are granted open access to careers in construction. Additionally, stakeholders must create and commit to a multi-stage plan and invest resources necessary to achieve goals and full compliance.
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