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Penn and Building and Construction Trades Council:
Creating Apprenticeship Program to Increase Supply of Craftspeople
September 4, 2007, Volume 54, No. 2

The University of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, is creating the Lucien E. Blackwell Apprenticeship Program to provide skills training opportunities to residents from West and Southwest Philadelphia.  

Named in memory of former Philadelphia City Council member and U.S. Rep. Lucien E. Blackwell of West Philadelphia, this two-year pilot program will train community-sponsored candidates  in such trades as carpentry, electrical work, painting, cement and brick masonry and steam fitting.  Also, other trainees may choose to learn to be laborers, finishers, plumbers, sheet metal workers, elevator mechanics or iron workers. It is expected that 25 participants will enter and complete the preapprenticeship training each year.

The program is designed to produce a supply of trained craftspeople from among residents of neighborhoods adjacent to Penn.

“The apprentice program is another expression of Penn’s deep commitment to community and economic development,” President Amy Gutmann said. “With training and education in both professional and life skills, residents of our neighborhoods will be prepared to participate in the future development of our campus and the development of our great city.”

The training of apprentices in this program is funded through grants from the Citizens Bank Foundation, the major partner, and Wachovia Bank, a supporting sponsor. It will be administered by the Philadelphia City Council’s Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP) which will provide instruction in life skills and financial literacy, as well as classes in the trades and academic enrichment. DAP will also follow-up to address social and welfare issues, if necessary.

Penn will work with the West Philadelphia Partnership, faith-based institutions, West Philadelphia on the Move, the West Philadelphia Coalition, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity and other community-based associations and officials to identify potential program candidates.  The Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition will manage the referral and application process and track the candidates’ progress. When candidates have successfully passed the appropriate union-apprenticeship test, GPUAC will refer them to Penn contractors for placement on University construction sites.

Penn plans to work with its construction project contractors to include West Philadelphia apprentices on crews whenever feasible.

Almanac - September 4, 2007, Volume 54, No. 2