The trades are said to be ex-offender friendly and not only provide solid wages and benefits but also offer a career path to follow. The best way to get into a trade is through an apprenticeship program, and the best way to get into an apprenticeship program is through a pre-apprenticeship program.
Although there are a number of steps that you must take, if you do a decent job may be at the end of the road. The first step, a pre-apprenticeship program, is an educational program that prepares people to be ready to apply for a registered apprenticeship program.
Participants in these programs receive in-class and hands-on training that will help them develop educational and work-related skills that may make them more likely to be accepted into an apprenticeship. They will be able to improve their literacy, math and English skills, and be trained in such work-readiness habits as showing up on time and following instructions. They will also get a head start on career-specific training.
Pre-apprenticeship programs exist for quite a few blue-collar fields, including carpentry, construction, medic, pipe fitter and culinary trades.
These programs are sponsored by a variety of nonprofit organizations, unions and community colleges. The community college programs require tuition, but scholarships may be available and some pre-apprenticeship programs are covered by grants.
Currently there is no national directory of programs that we know of, although several organizations have tried to create one.
The best way to find out about a pre-apprenticeship program in your area is to contact your local American Job Center (formerly known as One-Stop Career Center).
Here are a few links to give you an idea of what’s out there.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries maintains a section on their website with links to a variety of pre-apprenticeship programs, including school and nonprofit based, as well as a program for Native Americans.
The state of Maine offers a high-school level pre-apprenticeship program that combines one or two years of academics with 1,000 hours of on-the-job training during 11th and/or 12th grades. Those completing the program can enter an apprenticeship.
This site has links to pre-apprenticeship programs throughout California that are related to the construction industry.
The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association offers a free six-week Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program that teaches such skills as painting, varnishing, rigging, forklift operation and other things needed to gain employment in the yacht and boat-building industry.
Operated by Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. this program is open to residents of D.C. and Maryland and teaches solar installation, sustainable building, weatherization and other things workers need to know to be employed in the field of green construction.
This site offers a contact number for the state’s pre-apprenticeship program.
This program, operated by the Building Industry Association of Hawaii gives participants an overview of the construction trades and prepares them for entry-level positions in the workforce and in apprenticeship programs.