woman using construction machineryIn October of last year, Mayor Martin Walsh announced the creation of the Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative (GBAAI) – a comprehensive apprenticeship program designed to prepare residents for careers in the fast-growing hospitality and construction industries.

“We want to provide a pipeline to better-paying jobs with benefits,” Mayor Walsh said at the time.

One year later, that pipeline is being swiftly and successfully laid. In its first year, the GBAAI has exceeded its goals for both enrollment and graduation rate, enrolling 47 individuals, 96% of whom have completed their pre-apprenticeship training. So far, a majority (64%) of graduates have either started apprenticeships or else secured employment while awaiting the next application process for apprenticeships. Ultimately, 80% of first-year graduates are expected to be apprenticed.

The construction and hospitality industries show particular promise for economic mobility, as the OWD’s recently commissioned Career Pathways report shows. The local construction sector is projected to grow by 27% between 2012 and 2022, while the hospitality industry is projected to grow by 21% over the same period.

How It Works

The GBAAI creates career pathways to living wages by offering participants:

  1. Pre-apprenticeship job training
  2. Placement services for union apprenticeships
  3. Opportunities to earn college credits while apprenticing

Apprentices in construction receive their pre-apprenticeship training from Building Pathways and YouthBuild Boston. In their union apprenticeships, they can earn starting wages of $19 per hour and work toward journeyman wages starting at $35 per hour. Through an articulation agreement with Wentworth Institute of Technology, eligible participants can also earn up to half of the college credits required for an associate’s degree. The GBAAI will support the completion of their degrees with tuition grants.

Take a closer look at the pre-apprenticeship training program at Building Pathways:

Apprentices in hospitality receive pre-apprenticeship training from BEST Hospitality Training Center. In their union apprenticeships, they can earn a starting wage of $16 per hour and work toward journeyman wages of $21 per hour. The GBAAI is currently finalizing plans with Bunker Hill Community College to grant eligible apprentices up to 12 credits towards an Associate’s Degree in Hospitality Management.

Initially funded by a five-year, $3 million U.S. Department of Labor grant, the GBAAI has since leveraged an additional $12.9 million in dedicated apprenticeship slots. All told, the GBAAI is slated to train 405 pre-apprentices, with priority populations including women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities. Of the GBAAI’s first-year participants, 64% were minorities and 36% were women.