Blue Jacket, Inc. and ABC Graduate Five
A pilot partnership is growing Northeast Indiana’s skilled labor force with the graduation of five students from an intensive pre-apprentice training regimen. The training, the result of an economic and workforce development collaboration between the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Blue Jacket, Inc. (BJI), will significantly enhance opportunities for graduates to enter into the lucrative skilled construction trades.
By way of a grant award provided by ABC, the five (5) students received 90 hours of in-class and lab experience learning the fundamentals of construction, safety, mathematics, while receiving other training certified by the US Dept. of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Students also earned certification in OSHA 10 hour, Qualified Rigging, Qualified Signal Person, and Fork Lift Training.
Blue Jacket’s specialized workforce training is a national model structured to meet the growing community and workforce development needs of our region. The underlying philosophy of this innovative nonprofit is that adult ex-offenders should be afforded the opportunity to earn a second chance. Blue Jacket’s Mission is to provide the tools and opportunities to adult ex-offenders to become productive members of society. Clients must meet stringent guidelines to graduate. Blue Jacket recently expanded to provide services to non-offenders such as homeless, veteran, and low-income residents.
The five pre-apprentice graduates are now more marketable in construction trades, many of which are experiencing a shortage of skilled trade workers as many baby boomers near retirement. This pre-apprentice training makes graduates much more attractive to ABC-member construction companies to hire. The training also provides upward career mobility, higher pay, and continuous career employment which all are indicators for success in the labor market. In addition, gainful employment is a major factor in an ex-offender staying on the right path in life. That reduces both the social and economic costs to the entire community.
ABC is a professional construction trade association dedicated to the merit shop philosophy and to the free trade enterprise system. Trades available in Fort Wayne are Electrical, Carpentry, HVAC, Sheet Metal, and Plumbing. Apprenticeship is a formal training program in which an employer and employee agree to participate. The employee/apprentice learns a craft while earning income through a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
ABC President and CEO J.R. Gaylor believes that this is a start of a great community partnership to groom people for the skilled trades, “Everybody willing to earn a second chance should be given the opportunity to prove themselves. These five gentlemen proved their worth to our construction trainers and their success in the training should reflect their success in workforce.” Blue Jacket Executive Director Tony Hudson agrees. “Our intensive Career Academy pre-employment training at Blue Jacket, coupled with technical craft training, makes these hard-working graduates commodities to construction companies. In turn they become commodities to their families and our communities. I am very thankful for J.R. Gaylor and ABC’s willingness to partner with Blue Jacket.”