Delaware State University wants to help connect people of color with union construction jobs.
A agreement between Delaware Pathways 2 Apprenticeship (P2A) and DSU opens the door for people of color in Kent County, particularly from low-income communities, to access construction union apprenticeship programs.
Wilmington City Council member Rysheema Dixon is the executive director of P2A. She says the program started in New Castle County in 2019 and expanded to Kent County for its latest six-week program, using classroom space at DSU.
“One of our consultants who is on board in helping us with the expansion work, had said "Hey, what about Del State University?' And I was like, that would actually be a great location for us, especially because we do have a math and reading component that is more so the academic component of the program,” Dixon said.
Dixon says the program teaches participants about construction industries and unions, preparing them to be apprentices in construction-related labor and carpentry unions.
She notes that those attending also get to experience life on a college campus and they also get hands-on experience through community service work.
Participants graduate from the current program next week. Some will be hired by the Newark-based Laborers Local 199 Union to perform commercial and residential construction. Others will find work with the Carpenters Union in Georgetown.
"If they are going into Local 199, they will go into a two-week bootcamp, where they’ll learn general construction, so more so their hard skills for two weeks, where they’ll learn safety, demoing, concrete - to name a few," said Dixion. "And for the Carpenters (Union), they will take a test and interview for the Carpenters Union and go into their apprenticeship program.”
Dixon says it’s important to get more people of color involved with First State labor unions, since many, like carpentry, are growing in Delaware.
She says a new class starts on April 12 in Claymont and they are still deciding on a a location for the May class.