The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades unions are teaming up with Cleveland Schools to help attract current high school students to careers in the construction industry.

An agreement signed by the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council (CBCTC), the City of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will give students at Max Hayes High School a chance to enroll in a state-approved pre-apprenticeship program during high school. The curriculum, which will be taught by the JATCs and their members, will be focused on individual trades so students can meet union standards. Upon graduation, students will have the opportunity to become apprentices and join the construction trades.

“It is very important to try to make an impact on these students at a young age,” said David J. Wondolowski, Executive Secretary of the CBCTC. “Growing up in a city like Cleveland can sometimes be tough. Barriers exist all around these kids that aren’t necessarily there for those who grow up in the suburbs. This program will let them know that there is access to careers in construction if they want to work hard and apply themselves.”

Eight local unions have agreed to participate in the program, which will start next year when the Technical High School moves from its current location on Detroit Road to a spot just off of I-90. The eight unions include: Electrical Workers Local 38, Laborers Local 310, Northern Ohio Bricklayers, Northeast Ohio Carpenters, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Pipefitters Local 120, Plumbers Local 55, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 33.

In joining this partnership, the city agreed that more Cleveland residents – including minorities and women -will receive opportunities to work on construction projects within the city. Those that graduate from the program will receive a prevailing wage job, which will show them that there is a pathway to the middle class and a successful career.

The CBCTC is hoping to buck a national trend and get young adults into the construction trades.

“There is no better way to turn that trend around then to have programs like this,” added Wondolowski. “We have a similar program at Cuyahoga Community College which is also focused on young adults and we have brought in quite a few people from that program already.”

With this partnership, the CBCTC continue to position themselves as a viable career choice for today’s youth. This program, and a similar partnership with Cuyahoga Community College, has the potential to infuse much needed youth into the trades.