When nonprofit YouthBuild Boston sought a more accessible teaching space for its building trades training, Roxbury Community College (RCC) saw an opportunity to expand its offerings to the community. Last year, the two organizations launched their collaborative solution: the Boston Trades Assessment Center. The center, located at RCC, allows young people to try their hand at basic construction skills and lays the foundation for YouthBuild Boston’s pre-apprenticeship training program.

“We kept hearing the need for a mechanism that would allow folks who were interested in the building trades to access as much support as possible,” Ken Smith, Executive Director of YouthBuild Boston, said of the center’s beginnings. “The location at RCC was vital because people feel comfortable coming to a space that’s easily accessible. Plus, the administrative team [at RCC] has been so supportive and flexible. That’s really lent itself to success.”

Salvador Pina, Director of Workforce Development at RCC, said it’s important to the college to invest its assets – in this case, administrative capacity, marketing and physical space – into its relationships.

“We are a community college. Part of what that means is being tied in to the community,” Pina said. “We want to create career pathways for people that are simpler, clearer, and easier to access.”

The Boston Trades Assessment Center is essentially a three-week introduction to the building trades open to young adults, 18-26. Participants meet Monday through Friday, 8-4, to learn about the industry and work toward a ream of relevant certifications:

  • OSHA 10 for job safety
  • Lead safety
  • First aid & CPR
  • 2A/1C hoisting for the operation of front end loaders, backhoes, and excavators
  • Signalperson and rigger training

Those who successfully complete the three-week training may continue in the next nine weeks of YouthBuild Boston’s pre-apprenticeship training program, which prepares participants for union apprenticeship. Pre-apprenticeship graduates are eligible to earn 4 college credits from RCC for their completion of the full 12-week program.

Since its inception in January 2016, the center has served 220 people. Of these, 88 have gone on to complete YouthBuild Boston’s pre-apprenticeship training program.

Pina is already looking at the potential for expanding the center beyond construction to include the “smart building” industry – the installation and maintenance of technologically responsive systems. The field encompasses such jobs as healthy home evaluators, energy auditors, and envelope professionals.

Anyone with an interest in buildings, he said, could benefit from the center’s three-week training structure.

“It’s a way to get people onto a pathway without a huge commitment,” he said. “You can take this training. Get a taste of what the industry is like. If you like it, you can get on a pathway to higher paying jobs, assuming you have the interest for it.”

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