It’s apparent that steady employment is critical to any successful attempt to improve life in the nation's low income communities.
Project IMPACT (Increasing Minority Participation + Access to Construction Trades) is a partnership started between the Hudson County Building Trades, South Hudson Civic Association, the City of Jersey City, and the City of Newark, aimed at increasing the number of women, minorities, and veterans in the construction trades and related unions. The program recruits minorities, women, and veterans interested in becoming a union apprentice and assists them in:
Obtaining skills needed to prepare for and take the apprenticeship test—including classes and test prep materials when required.
Preparation for the Interview after passing the test.
Overcoming obstacles such as a suspended driver’s license, lack of a GED, or lack of resources needed to pay for the test, drug test, initiation fee, and even books/tools required to become a construction union apprentice.
Finding a job site that requires local minority and women apprentices for their project.
Finding assistance for social services/personal issues when needed.
Funds from the ARC grant were used primarily for recruitment, apprenticeship test preparation classes and materials, and coverage of test fees and applicant fees. The $600 union initiation fee presents a barrier to access for many low income News Jersey residents without the aid of Project IMPACT.
“Project IMPACT is a unifying force for the community, one that brings civic and community leaders together with the local unions to prepare city residents for good-paying jobs that can improve their quality of life,” said Newark Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad of the Department of Job Creation, Workforce development, Affirmative Action and Re-Entry.
The program seeks to assist 50 – 100 Newark and Jersey City minorities gain entrance into several of the building trades each year over the next five years. To date, the unions that have signed onto the program include Plumbers, Carpenters, Laborers, Pipefitters, Painters, Bricklayers, IBEW Electricians, Insulators, Cement Masons, Teamsters, and Tile and Marble Layers. In 2016, 52 persons were placed in apprenticeships bringing the two-year total to 85 recruits who have accessed apprenticeships in twelve different unions and construction trades.
Apprentice trainees from Project IMPACT notably volunteered and took part in the construction of transitional housing for homeless veterans in Jersey City.