For many workers, particularly those without a college degree, apprenticeships can offer a gateway to the middle class. The Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative (GBAAI) enlarges that gateway by providing training and apprenticeship opportunities in the construction and hospitality industries. These two sectors offer particular promise in terms of both growth and wages. Between 2012 and 2022, Boston’s construction industry is projected to grow by 27%, while hospitality is expected to grow by 21%. Wages for beginning apprentices in both industries start at above Boston’s living wage.

Over five years (Oct. 2015 – Sep. 2020), the GBAAI will support 405 pre-apprentices in training programs that work to place enrollees in construction and hospitality apprenticeships. Through articulation agreements with local colleges, eligible apprentices will be able to earn college credits for learning on the job. The GBAAI also offers these apprentices the opportunity to apply for tuition assistance to complete their degrees. See more details below on how the GBAAI works.

woman using construction machineryBenefits of Apprenticeship

  • Make good money while learning a skill
  • Earn college credit without taking on student loan debt
  • Gain a nationally recognized, industry-recognized credential
  • Get on a career path with built-in wage increases
  • Join a high-growth industry in need of skilled workers
  • Learn in a hands-on environment

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or credential
  • Be a resident of Suffolk, Norfolk, or Middlesex counties

*Priority placement will be extended to women, minorities, veterans and eligible spouses, and people with disabilities.*

How GBAAI Works

Enrollees in the Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative have the opportunity to progress from 1) pre-apprenticeship training to 2) apprenticeship to 3) higher education. These steps look different depending on whether someone is pursuing the construction or hospitality track.

Hospitality Pathway

1) Pre-apprenticeship
BEST (formerly BEST Corp.) provides 6-week pre-apprenticeship training in hospitality. BEST trains pre-apprentices in housekeeping skills and customer service norms and helps place graduates into apprenticeships with Local 26, Boston’s hospitality union.

2) Apprenticeship
Housekeeping apprentices are placed at such world-class Boston hotels as the Sheraton, Fairmont Copley Plaza, and Boston Park Plaza, among many more. Apprentices earn initial wages starting at $17 per hour and can work toward journeyman wages starting at $21 per hour.

3) Higher education
Graduates of BEST’s pre-apprenticeship training will be able to earn a total of 12 credits toward an associate degree in hospitality management at Bunker Hill Community College.

Construction Pathway

1) Pre-apprenticeship
Training in construction is offered by two different organizations, Building Pathways and YouthBuild Boston. Building Pathways provides a 6-week pre-apprenticeship program, focused on all priority populations. YouthBuild Boston provides a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program, focused on young people, 18-27. In either program, pre-apprentices learn job readiness skills, complete important industry certifications (such as OSHA and CPR), and gain exposure to the variety of trades in which apprenticeships are available. The pre-apprenticeship programs also help place enrollees into apprenticeships.

2) Apprenticeship
Apprentices work alongside master crafts-men and -women to learn a particular trade in-depth. Apprenticeships are available for electricians, bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, laborers, and more. Apprentices in construction trades earn initial wages starting at $19 per hour and can work toward journeyman wages starting at $35 per hour.

3) Higher education
Apprentices in five select trades – carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers, pipefitters, and iron workers – can earn college credit for their work through an articulation agreement with Wentworth Institute of Technology. They may pursue any of the following degrees with the credit earned from their apprenticeship:

  • Associate in Architectural Technology
  • Associate in Building Construction Management
  • Bachelor’s in Building Construction Management
  • Bachelor’s in Project Management

Up to 33 college credits (that’s half the required credits for an associate degree) will be granted for their apprenticeship work. Apprentices earning college credit at Wentworth can apply for up to $6,000 in tuition support from GBAAI toward the completion of their degree.

Take a closer look at construction pre-apprenticeship training in this Building Pathways video:

To Apply

Contact the appropriate pre-apprenticeship training program below and indicate that you are interested in applying to the Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative.

(for hospitality pre-apprentices)
Lori Sylvia
617-542-1177, x212

Building Pathways
(for construction pre-apprentices)
Mary Vogel

YouthBuild Boston
(for construction pre-apprentices, ages 18-27)
Greg Mumford
617-445-8887, x102

GBAAI History & Governance

The Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative was initially launched in September 2015 by a $3 million American Apprenticeship Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Since that time, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, which oversees the initiative, has leveraged an additional $12.9 million in dedicated apprenticeship slots. While the initiative has expanded apprenticeship opportunities in construction, its hospitality apprenticeship represents the first of its kind in the nation.

The GBAAI is guided by the GBAAI Advisory Committee, which is comprised of representatives from higher education, trade associations, labor, training providers, and the local Workforce Development Board.

GBAAI Achievements

In its first year, which concluded in September 2016, GBAAI:

  • Enrolled 47 individuals in pre-apprenticeship programs, which is 10% over the planned 43 individuals. Of the 47 served, 64% were minorities and 36% were women.
  • Graduated 96% (45/47) of its pre-apprenticeship training enrollees
  • Placed 64% of graduates in either apprenticeship or in employment until the next cycle of apprenticeship application opens. Ultimately, 80% are expected to enter apprenticeship in their chosen fields.

Further Reading

OWD Blog
High Enrollment & Graduation Rate Distinguish Apprenticeship Initiative’s First Year
Nov. 9, 2016
BEST Corp Graduates First Class of Hospitality Pre-Apprenticeship Program
April 5, 2016
$3 Million Grant Launches Apprenticeship Initiative
March 3, 2016

Press Releases
Mayor Walsh Announces $3M Federal Grant to Support Construction and Hospitality Careers
Oct. 2, 2015
Sen. Markey, Mayor Walsh to Announce $3 Million Federal Grant to Support Construction and Hospitality Careers
Oct. 2, 2015
Mayor Walsh Announces Grant to Support Construction and Hospitality Careers
Oct. 2, 2015

Providing more Americans with….Job Training Opportunities to Help Grow the Middle Class
Sep. 9, 2015

Other Sources
BEST Fact-Sheet
An overview of program achievements by BEST – a GBAAI partner organization that provides pre-apprenticeship training in hospitality.
Building Pathways Fact-Sheet
An overview of program achievements by Building Pathways – one of two GBAAI partner organizations that provide pre-apprenticeship training in construction.

Publicity Materials
GBAAI Brochure
This downloadable PDF provides an overview of GBAAI eligibility, benefits, participant stages, and the application process.
GBAAI College Pathway Fact-Sheet
This downloadable PDF explains how certain GBAAI participants can apply for college credit, including the degrees they can pursue.