Graduates learn skills for careers in construction
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 9, 2014) — A group of eager workers and learners were honored today in a unique commencement ceremony — the first graduating class of Bridges to Opportunities, a workforce training program created to provide minority and female workers with education and skills for careers in construction.
“Every commencement exercise is a celebration, a bright beginning, and today’s ceremony is no exception,” said keynote speaker Warren Whitlock, associate administrator for civil rights in the Federal Highway Administration. “But Bridges to Opportunities is that much and more. Those whom we honor today have been able, through this program, to acquire skills and training for a lifetime of good jobs.”
Gov. Steve Beshear launched Bridges to Opportunities in March 2013, part of the state’s commitment to increase opportunities for minorities and women in the construction field.
Bridges to Opportunities – known popularly as “B2O” – was funded as part of the $2.3 billion Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. The project serves as the catalyst for B2O, but the program was designed to equip women and minorities with skills for a career, not a single construction project.
Honorees attending the ceremony today were among 293 men and women who advanced through three training tracks to attain industry-recognized certifications and three college credits. Certifications are in welding, basic blueprint reading, and highway flagger and safety.
“This is a perfect intersection of two of our top priorities – building a city of lifelong learners and creating good job and career opportunities for all of our citizens,” Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said. “The skills, confidence and jobs that these graduates are achieving through this partnership will help build stronger families and s stronger community for years to come.”
The new graduates received certificates and items appropriate for a day on a construction job – travel mug, lunch tote, laser level and tape measure.
Kentucky State University, the commonwealth’s historically black college and land-grant institution, has administered the program, including recruitment, enrollment, evaluation and basic skills training.
Nineteen program participants have earned 29 total certifications in various types of welding and are considered work- and labor-ready. Twelve more have gone to work on the Downtown Crossing – Kentucky’s half of the Ohio River Bridges project – and several others have accepted work in other, construction-related jobs. Ten program participants have been employed in competitive union apprenticeship programs.