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Rochester MAPP Training Program ‘Provides A Career In The Trades To Underserved Communities Of Color’

Published Wednesday, December 30, 2020
by IBEW News
Rochester MAPP Training Program ‘Provides A Career In The Trades To Underserved Communities Of Color’

(ROCHESTER, NEW YORK) - There's a lot of talk about helping those who are less fortunate break the cycle of poverty, but the Rochester Multi-Craft Apprenticeship Preparation Program (MAPP) is actually getting it done.

"MAPP ‘is the beginning of generational wealth,’" said Executive Director Kereem Berry, who's also a member of Rochester International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 86. "It's the ‘only’ organization ‘I know of in this area that's offering a true career at the end.’"

MAPP works with the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Labor Council to provide Pre-Apprenticeship Programs to historically marginalized communities in the Rochester area.

Participants receive training and certification in First Aid and CPR, as well as the standard 10-hour safety training program from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and 80 hours of construction-related math.

They also get hands-on experience, from using power tools to climbing ladders.

Those who complete the program and meet the minimum requirements are given direct entry into their program of interest.

"One of the things MAPP ‘does well is it gives the participants exposure to all the Trades.’  ‘That way, the students can pick which is the best fit for them,’" IBEW Local 86 Business Manager Michael Bader said. "And that exposure, and the training that MAPP provides, ‘helps those students secure jobs that provide a living wage and can end the cycle of go-nowhere, minimum wage jobs.’"

At one time, the City of Rochester, located on Lake Ontario and roughly equidistant between Buffalo and Syracuse, was home to major corporations including Bausch & Lomb, Kodak and Xerox.

Those companies provided good-paying jobs, but they've all left.

Now, the jobs come from call centers, temp agencies and Non-Union construction jobs, Berry said.

"That 'Big Three' economy ‘has long since left us,’" Berry said. "Consequently, the inner city of Rochester ‘has seen a plunge in residents' opportunities to earn a living wage, making poverty the overwhelming norm.’"

Enter MAPP at a time when the average age of a Construction Worker is inching closer to retirement and Building Trades Unions are looking for new pools of talent.

Now Berry and his team are there, training the next generation.

And as Unions like the IBEW take concrete steps toward being more diverse and inclusive, MAPP’s work with People of Color becomes even more important.

Berry notes MAPP doesn't just teach hard skills like math and how to safely handle a power tool.

They train the whole person.

Alongside ladders and blueprints, students are learning soft skills like discipline and professionalism, taking a page from the IBEW's Code of Excellence.

"Simply put, ‘it's about maintaining your sense of professionalism at all times.’  ‘We have rules that go from attendance, to appearance to hygiene,’" Berry said.

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