June 17, 2019
First Step Staffing in Atlanta has introduced “Second Step” construction skills training to provide its workers a pathway to higher paid jobs. The first class of 9 graduated in March, and all were hired by major area construction firms in jobs paying $15 to $18 per hour. The second class began this month.
First Step’s training partner is the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), which delivers its pre-apprenticeship curriculum in a format designed to accommodate working adults. The usual 4-week, Monday through Friday schedule has been extended to 7 weeks, with classes held three days per week so participants can continue earning income on alternate days. CEFGA is also a placement partner, connecting graduates to jobs with reputable construction employers with whom it has strong relationships.
Training applicants complete a rigorous screening process including a Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE) assessment, a comprehensive drug test, and a physical agility test to ensure they are a good fit. Applicants must also write an essay describing their interest in the course and be interviewed. To help individuals qualify, First Step is raising funds to add TABE-prep literacy training for improving candidates’ reading and math skills to the required 6th grade level.
Five area WIBs offer funding for the construction skills training, and each has its own application process which First Step is working to streamline. Participants apply in their County of residence and the process takes upwards of 4 weeks to complete depending on the individual WIB. Applicants must provide proof of income, proof of citizenship and other documentation that is often difficult for them to obtain, especially proof of residency. First Step works hard to help individuals through this process as it can often be frustrating and confusing.
Beyond construction, First Step is pursuing “second step” opportunities in logistics as well, working with the Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute to offer training for incumbent workers using the Logistics Education and Pathways (LEAP) curriculum. LEAP is a fast-track online certificate program, developed with grant funding from JP Morgan Chase as part of its global New Skills at Work initiative.