Construction Skills Program Has Helped to Create Numerous New York Jobs, Says Columbia

Do work programs successfully achieve their aims of training a workforce and creating local jobs?

A new study by Columbia University’s School of International Affairs, titled “Expanding Opportunity For Middle Class Jobs in New York City: Minority Youth Employment In The Building and Construction Trades,” explores the role of the Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills in creating new jobs for area residents. The comprehensive study looked at a variety of factors and was able to determine that the program is functioning successfully at its goal of creating opportunities for a diverse workforce to engage in construction.

According to the study, Construction Skills, which has been operating since 2001, effectively met its goals thanks to a strong business model, and a desire to continually improve. The intention of the study was specifically to identify, if Construction Skills was successful, what exactly made it produce consistent, positive results. They explain that part of the program’s success lies in its extensive outreach. Construction Skills has maintained a close relationship with the union apprenticeship programs it feeds into,for example; this way, it is able to match its own recruitment rate to the number of positions actually available.

How effective is Construction Skills? The program has an 80% retention rate, and has program participants from every borough. Since its inception, the program has been able to place 82% of its participants into union apprenticeship programs. Construction Skills has maintained its goal to help diverse communities, with 90% of graduates identifying as Asian, black, or Hispanic. Once graduates complete their apprenticeship, they earn an average construction salary of $67,110.

The report emphasizes that “The Construction Skills program has made tremendous strides helping minority youth achieve significant levels of success in entering the middle class,” and explains that currently, almost 20% of New York City’s young adults are both out of school, and out of work. Prioritizing the movement of these young adults into programs like Construction Skills helps to temper the employment crisis, and the invariable local economic and social upheaval it has the potential to create. When people are unemployed or have a dead-end job like food service countering, they can often feel unmotivated and stifled. Compared to fast food cooks, the report says that Construction Skills students have a lifetime earning potential that is 166% higher.