By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS & REVIEW MAGAZINE
A no-cost union construction pre-apprenticeship training program that began just four years ago is doing everything possible to equip individuals with the knowledge and resources necessary to succeed in a construction career in St. Louis.
The Building Union Diversity Program – known as BUD for short – began as an idea in 2013 and grew into a working program the following year. Today the BUD Program touts an 88 percent completion rate and an 85 percent placement rate. In the four years since its inception, BUD has trained and placed 120 individuals in St. Louis construction jobs.
BUD’s goal? To increase the numbers of eligible young women and minorities entering the trades. And as Program Director Russ Signorino says, its goal is also to ensure that those entering the trades represent a population that mirrors the St. Louis communities in which building projects are occurring.
More than eight cooperating joint labor-management construction training programs under the umbrella of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council work in tandem to make BUD succeed.
“Trying to attract a new demographic is an issue that many of the trades and contractors have had for a long time,” said Signorino at a program update session Oct. 3. “The St. Louis job industry only grows at about 1 percent per year. The construction workforce here is growing at about 3 percent annually. We’re doing what we can to recruit, train and equip willing young women and minorities with everything they’ll need to be successful.”
Everything they may need, according to BUD sponsors, mentors and volunteers, includes: van transportation to the training center, bus passes, a $50 weekly stipend, safety equipment (including boots, helmets and glasses), pants, shirts, a tools allowance, mentoring and even help developing necessary credit for securing their first vehicle loan.
Companies who have stepped forward to support BUD include contractors, subcontractors, construction associations, financial institutions, utility companies, universities, healthcare providers, insurers, automotive dealerships, public agencies such as Bi-State Development and MoDOT, and nonprofit entities like the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
The number of individuals in each BUD cohort is limited. For more information on how your company can sponsor, support or recruit potential candidates, contact the BUD Program at (314) 303-6082 and visit @BUDSTL on Facebook. Cohorts for 2019 are currently forming.