PHA Opens New Modern Training Center...

PHA Opens New Modern Training Center to Prepare More Public Housing Residents for Jobs in the Building Trades

PHILADELPHIA, PA (September 7, 2004) - Philadelphia Housing Authority residents enrolled in the agencys Pre-Apprenticeship Program now have a beautiful, modern facility to learn their new craft. With program graduates and an audience of more than 200 looking on, PHA Executive Director Carl Greene cut the ribbon on the agencys new Work Force Development Center, located on Vare Avenue at the new Greater Grays Ferry Estates.

"TAs successful as this program has been in sending well trained minority men and women into the union workforce, this new center will enable PHA to help even more, particularly with our new Youth Build component," saidGreene.

Youth Build is a special add-on that allows applicants ages 17-24 who do not have a high school diploma or GED to get extra training, earn a diploma and qualify for the Pre-Apprenticeship course. (A diploma or GED is a requirement for the program.)

Since its inception in 1999, nearly 350 PHA residents have graduated from the 21-week program, with the great majority of the graduates going on to full time jobs. 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 during the six-month training program taught by masters of the building trades. They then earn 40% of a journeymans hourly pay rate during their apprenticeship, which takes six months. When students complete the PHA program they are on their way to a life-long career in a highly skilled industry earning a good living. Funding for the program comes from several sources including the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation and the U.S Department of Labor. George Johnson, director of the Pre-Apprenticeship program said the new facility expands the scope of hands-on training. "Better power equipment for carpenters will allow us to take this program to the next level. For example, we can now build furniture and three-story structures," said Johnson.

Carl Greene said the Pre-Apprenticeship program is part of PHAs commitment to all generations, from pre-school programs to educational programs for teenagers to an array of senior programs. He also praised the wonderfully cooperative relationship PHA enjoys with the building trades. "We are rebuilding Philadelphia with the efforts of these tremendous union men and women, " Greene said. Six program graduates returned to help commemorate the opening of the new center; carpenter Kevin Dawkins, electrician Marlon Williams, drywall finisher Lisa Reese, sheet metal worker Elizabeth Williams 3rd, ship builder Olusegen Fakanlsun and painter Tamika Preston, who now owns her own painting business.

The placement of two Pre-Apprenticeship graduates at the Kvaerner Ship Yard marked a first for the program, an indication of how well regarded graduates have become. Ed Coryell, Secretary-Treasurer of the Carpenters Union provided the keynote address at the dedication. The Carpenters have accepted more Pre-Apprenticeship graduates than any other union, an easy decision according to Coryell, "considering the quality worker the program produces."

PHA Executive Director Carl Greene (center) is joined by PHA Commr. Nellie Reynolds (left, in white) and Ed Coryell, Secretary-Treasurer of the Carpenters Union, and City Controller Jonathan Saidel( right) at the ribbon cutting for the new training center.

Pre-Apprenticeship Graduates Lisa Reese, Tameka Preston, Kevin Dawkins, and Marlon Williams were on hand for the opening of the new training center.

PHA Exec. Dir. Carl Greene and Sr. Deputy Exec. Director Michael Leithead visit with an instructutor at the computer lab in the new center.