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Women, people of color in Syracuse wanted for construction apprenticeship to work on I-81

City of Syracuse
Recruitment begins for Syracuse Build's Pathways to Apprenticeship Program.

The call is going out for anyone who wants to take part in a construction training program that could work on the massive Interstate 81 construction project in Syracuse. It’s part of a strategy to get marginalized community members into jobs rebuilding the highway.

Syracuse Build is working with central New York construction trades to beef up the workforce as the state’s $2 billion project to tear down and rebuild part of I-81 approaches. Ground is supposed to break next year. The Pathways to Apprenticeship Program hopes to offer union trade opportunities to Syracuse residents who haven’t been able to access them in the past. Participants will be paid while they take an 11-week course introducing them to the trades. Then, they begin a multi-year paid apprenticeship with a union.

Greg Lancette, President of the Central-Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council said this offers opportunities that have been hard to come by in the past for women and communities of color.

"The graduates from this program are going to be head and shoulders above any applicant off the street,” Lancette said. “They’re going to have a skill set and a touch of employment history already. And they themselves are going to come to the conclusion, this is what they want to continue with. This has a great upside potential.” 

Syracuse Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens said this isn’t your run of the mill job-training program.

"Women, veterans, people of color; register,” Owens said. “It is a paid training. Two things I know I’ve said: I’m tired of seeing people with a piece of paper and no pathway to a job and second, people cannot train for weeks upon weeks with no kind of revenue. So, we are addressing both of those things in this program."

It’s being funded from a variety of organizations. And while jobs aren’t limited to the I-81 rebuild, it can’t be ignored, according to Pathways Project Manager Dominic Robinson.

"I think it’s a mistake to become overly narrow in our focus on 81 because of all the other opportunities,” Robinson said. “But at the end of the day, we have to see our local residents participate in that project in a variety of ways."

Applicants can apply here by May 21. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.