How to get single parents into the trades: Childcare

It’s boom time in the building trades. For anyone ready to work hard, family-wage union construction jobs are available — but first you have to get in.

That’s what pre-apprenticeship training programs are for: They help people get into the building trades, especially women and minority candidates who haven’t historically had opportunities or connections in the industry. Their programs are free, but they’re also unpaid, which means candidates have to have a way to support themselves during a training that lasts five to 11 weeks, depending on the program. Single parents have an extra barrier: paying for child care during that time.

What if there were help to overcome that hurdle?

There is, now, thanks to Labor’s Community Service Agency (LCSA), a union-sponsored charitable organization.

With a $40,000 grant from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and donations from local unionists, LCSA has just launched the Pre-Apprenticeship Childcare Initiative, a pilot project to provide child care stipends to low-income single parents who want to enroll in pre-apprenticeship programs. This summer, the first four recipients will enroll in programs at Oregon Tradeswomen Inc., Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute, Portland Youth Builders, and Constructing Hope.

If the pilot succeeds, LCSA director Eryn Byram hopes to establish it an ongoing program.

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