Public Housing Residents Graduate Building Trades Course Ready to Enter Job Market
PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 18, 2002) - Another 22 public housing residents are on their way to new careers. They are the newest graduates of the Philadelphia Housing Authority's unique Pre-Apprenticeship program, a 21-week course that prepares students to enter apprenticeships in the building trades.

The class graduating today includes six students going into carpentry, two into roofing, six into electrical and eight into painting. The training is hands-on. Students spend 20 hours per week learning all four trades as well as construction math. They also receive adult education and life skills training.

The program is the brainchild of PHA Executive Director Carl R. Greene. "When we began this program in 1999, the goal was to prepare 400 of our residents for apprenticeships in the building trades," said Greene, "and we're already more than half way toward reaching that goal." Including today's group, more than 240 residents have graduated from the course. So far, 134 graduates have advanced to full-scale union status.

The goal of the program is to move these residents off of the welfare rolls and into the workforce, in keeping with state and federal law. Many graduates serve their apprenticeships working with construction companies at PHA developments. And there are plenty of those to choose from. PHA is in the midst of a billion-dollar overhaul of its properties.
Students are paid minimum wage, $5.15 an hour, during school. They then earn 40% of a journeyman's hourly pay rate during their apprenticeship. Funding for the program comes from several sources including the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation and the U.S Department of Labor.

Also taking part in today's event were 20 graduates of the Professional Health Care Institute (PHI) Certified Nursing Assistant Program, an eight-week course that leads to state certification. These PHA residents immediately go to work at hospitals and nursing homes. Rounding out the CFI group are eight pharmacy technician graduates and two in medical billing.

About PHA
PHA is transforming public housing in the city of Philadelphia. As the nation's fourth largest public housing agency serving more than 73,000 residents, PHA is the first housing authority in the U. S. designated by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) of the National Association of Realtors as an "Accredited Management Organization." This designation is awarded to firms engaged in property management that have met IREM's high standards in the areas of education, experience, integrity and financial stability.