A study released by Building Futures in April of 2008, Skills Gap Analysis: RI Construction Trades, found that Rhode Island was producing less than 30 percent of the skilled construction workers needed for the next decade. With a shortage of trained workers, project owners and developers can expect to face higher priced, but less skilled workers. For users of construction services, this means lower productivity, higher safety risks and less reliable project delivery.

Building Futures has developed a model Apprentice Utilization Program (AUP) that offers a unique approach to workforce development for Rhode Island. The AUP promotes contractor participation in effective apprenticeship programs that help to train Rhode Island’s next generation of skilled tradespeople.

The AUP provides project owners with model bid specifications and other necessary documents for implementation that can be incorporated into a project owner’s contracting procedures to ensure that all construction firms that bid on the owner’s project participate in Class A apprenticeship training programs for the crafts they employ.

Different means of integrating AUP can be used, directly in contractor bid specifications, through a separate memorandum of agreement or in Project Labor Agreements. The percentage of total labor hours on a project to be performed by apprentices is pre-determined, so when contractors are awarded a scope of work on a project, the plan to achieve the percentage is finalized.

Building Futures works with government officials and legislators as well as employers and developers in the construction industry to promote adoption of its Apprenticeship Utilization Program.

Building Futures has received strong support for use of the AUP from the local project owner community, including major public and private institutions in Rhode Island, such as Blue Cross-Blue ShieldBrown University and the City of Providence. These entities have led the way by proving that this different approach to construction contracting – which promotes high quality training and good jobs for local residents – is both feasible and beneficial for project owners.