Building Futures is proactively creating the conditions for expanded training opportunities for all entrance level workers in commercial construction, while increasing access to these opportunities for low-income adults. We approach this work through thoughtful changes in both policy and practice. To do this effectively, our initiative has several areas of focus:
Increasing Apprentice Utilization
A cornerstone of our work is the recognition that unless we increase opportunities for Rhode Islanders to become apprentices – construction projects of the future will be built by a traveling workforce, not by our residents.
By partnering with the project-owner community – those repeat users of construction services such as government, private-sector developers and institutions – we help modify policies and practices to create apprenticeship opportunities for Rhode Islanders without negatively impacting the cost of construction.
Building Futures also encourages project owners to hire construction companies that actively utilize apprentices and participate in quality training programs for their workforce. Building Futures defines quality or Class A apprenticeship programs as those that:
- Are registered with the Department of Labor on a federal or state level, and
- Have graduated apprentices in at least three of the past five years of operation.
Building Futures believes that all the talent needed for a skilled construction workforce is right here in Rhode Island. In order to ensure that Rhode Islanders are aware of and prepared for careers in construction, our initiative helps in multiple ways including our own pre-apprenticeship program.
Reducing Systemic Barriers To Employment
Our pre-apprenticeship program is designed to help our participants overcome their unique individual barriers to entering construction apprenticeship programs, but sometimes we encounter roadblocks that are systemic in their nature.
One example is the state’s policies related to suspended driver’s licenses. In our work, we have found that current policies around license reinstatement can create a vicious cycle of debt and poverty that disproportionately affects low-income communities. Rhode Island law allows for the suspension of driver’s licenses for economic reasons, such as unpaid tickets, in addition to motor vehicle violations. In fact, out of all the 50 states, Rhode Island allows for every means of economic suspension of drivers licenses.
Building Futures is actively exploring the best means to address this systemic barrier to employment, as those in construction careers must have the ability to travel independently of public transportation. By helping to establish a pathway to “restricted or limited use” drivers licenses, our goal is to provide a means for participants to get to and from work so they have an ability to make regular payments on suspended-license related debts.
A skilled construction workforce cannot appear overnight – it requires years of high quality training and people successfully entering and completing the training pipeline. Yet as in all sectors, we are approaching an unprecedented level of retirement in Rhode Island’s existing construction workforce, without an adequate pool of talent developed to replace them.
Our work is centered on this vital construction sector of our Rhode Island economy, guided by our mission, vision and goals. We hope that this brief overview is helpful and that you choose to delve deeper into our work through this site.