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All New Yorkers to get a piece of construction pie.

It's no secret that New York City's $16 billion construction industry plays a major part in bolstering the Big Apple's economy, and an additional $10 billion worth of public and private construction projects are on the horizon as the rebuilding of lower Manhattan and projects throughout the five boroughs kick into high gear.

The BTEA applauds Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's leadership in creating a coalition made up of organized labor, contractors and developers, the real estate industry, educators and others that has reached a landmark agreement allowing all New Yorkers to gain access to meaningful and lucrative careers in the construction industry just in time for this boom.

For its part, the Building and Construction Trades has pledged to reserve more than 40% of the spots in their apprenticeship programs by the year 2010 for veterans, women, high school graduates and economically disadvantaged New Yorkers. This agreement will bring about some of the most sweeping changes the construction industry has seen in more than a quarter century.

Starting in 2006, 15% of apprentice slots will be set aside for high school graduates, 10% for returning veterans and 10% for women. Five percent of apprentice spots will be reserved for economically disadvantaged individuals--unemployed adults without high school diplomas--and this number will increase to 10% by 2010.

This program, which is just one of the initiatives unveiled by the Mayor's Commission on Construction Opportunity, was announced in early October. It is supported by U.S. congressman Charles Rangel, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. and prominent players in New York City's real estate community.

Created in March 2005 and co-chaired by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff and Deputy Mayor for Policy Dennis Walcott, the 33-member commission worked to ensure that all New Yorkers, particularly minorities, women, returning veterans and new high school graduates, are well-prepared and can gain access to quality construction jobs in both the private and public sectors.

Since its founding, the commission has strived towards achieving three main goals: increasing the number of minorities and women in construction, preparing minorities and women for employment in the industry and building government tools to promote the goals of the commission.

To accomplish these goals, the commission unveiled a number of recommendations (a few of which are listed here) to be implemented:

The city has agreed to dedicate a new $45 million, 1,000-seat high school that will administer a curriculum that emphasizes all dimensions of the building trades.

A multi-faceted educational and work preparedness program funded by the city will prepare economically disadvantaged individuals for the construction industry. After graduating from the program, graduates will be able to enroll in Construction Skills 2000, a pre-apprentice program run by the Building and Construction Trades Council and the Building Trades Employers' Association.

Starting in September 2006, the City University of New York will work with the BTEA and its member companies to create a curriculum focused on preparing students for managerial and administrative jobs within the construction industry.

The city has agreed to collaborate with Non-Traditional Employment for Women to begin a public service announcement campaign that will encourage women to seek employment in the construction industry. Along these same lines, the commission has requested that the New York State Department of Labor reduce the waiting time to access union apprenticeships by allowing graduates of NEW to enter directly into these programs.

We are already seeing positive results from these programs, as the BTEA, several institutions and a number of developers, including the developers of the Atlantic Yards, Bronx Terminal Market and the World Trade Center site, have already agreed to provide mentoring and training programs to minority and women business enterprises, establish good faith goals for hiring of women and fund a compliance officer to monitor implementation of these items.

By implementing these initiatives, we can ensure that everyone has equal access to employment in the construction industry. The Building Trades Employers' Association looks forward to working with its members, city officials and other entities to bring these programs to fruition.




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Author:Coletti, Louis J.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 30, 2005
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