The implementation of this Blocks of Blight program across all development projects in a community would address multiple complex challenges. The downstream impacts are numerous and reach beyond the imagination for generations to come.
- Expand benefits of trade programs
- Effective workforce development introducing experienced labor into the industry reducing the labor shortage challenges and providing future team leaders, supervisors and managers.
- More skills create additional opportunities for increased income resulting in less reliance on social programs, increased investment in the community, and increased taxable income.
- Improved property values for the renovated block and the surrounding neighborhood.
- The potential for homeownership gives additional incentive for employee to stick with the program and excel at their trade.
- Pride in workmanship. More than most industries, the construction industry allows its employees to see the results of their labor in fairly quick order. To see the beauty, the accomplishment fills an individual with pride and a desire to share and replicate that emotion over and over.
- “The CornMaze Effect” – once other members of the community witness the success of the employees, they too will want that for themselves.
- A permanently altered lower socioeconomic corn maze equates to less burden on public resources, decreases in crime, contributions to society and creates endless possibilities for future generations.
Blocks of Blight is a program that helps to fill the O – On-The Job Training requirement as an extension to an existing training program or as part of other community support services. The program marries neighborhoods in need with program graduates seeking a training ground and provides the construction industry a structure in which to influence and develop strong skills required to fill long term positions.
The premise is for a developer or landowner, wanting to contribute to the evolution of a community, to provide the block. General Contractor and their Sub-contractors whose corporate missions include the desire to participate in human capital development would bid for the project and the proposals would include a segment on training for each major trade. The trainees would gain additional training and on-the-job experience that would prepare them for long term placement within one of the project organizations or ones outside the program. The wrap around support services and coaching would be provided by existing community programs.
Selecting the block:
The communities where these blocks of blight exist are motivated to solve the problem and should be part of the solution. Working with the local community foundations and other non-profits to identify the potential blocks and team members will aid in the project’s success.
The right block has community buy-in, local government support, low acquisition cost (perhaps supplemented by local government, local investors and/or the community foundation), permit ability, and a location desirable for a qualifying resident. Additional considerations include the purpose of the block such as… Is it mixed use that provides multiple streams of revenue and how will that be managed long term? Is it residential to be sold or rented? Is it commercial and what companies would find it desirable and does that community need that type of company in that location?
Workforce development programs are often offered by community colleges and other non-profits. The best programs provide not only trade specific coursework but also life skill training (financial literacy, problem solving, communications, etc..). Additionally, they provide wrap around support to help the trainee manage all the barriers to their success until they are working full time in their new trade. Childcare, health care, transportation, life coaching, etc.. Another key differentiator for strong programs is success measurements. Those truly motivated to change lives focus on and track outcomes beyond graduation.
Graduates of these programs have displayed a dedication to their career and future, so they pass the first round of qualifications to participate in Blocks of Blight. Recommendations from their trainers as well as from community leaders should also be components of their application.
The goal is successful completion of a project, so all barriers need to be considered in the selection process. Either on their own or with help from community organizations, they must be free of distractions so the efforts of others to help them is maximized. This includes transportation to and from the site, family care to raise attendance levels, and a drug free lifestyle to ensure on-the-job safety.
Not all general and sub-contractors will be interested or qualified to participate but those who share the social vision and have the bandwidth could apply. The standard competitive bid process would be followed but would include training line items.
Project expectations would include additional time for training and slower performance in support of the mission. Project gets awarded and commences.
As part of their role, the GC would be responsible for training oversight to ensure trainees are comprehending the instruction provided by the subs, that the sub-contractors are prepared and understanding training methods, and that both sides are communicating openly through the process.
After hours training should include life skills like financial literacy, communications, anger & conflict management, work ethics & expectations, problem solving and relationship development. Additionally, tool skills, math & measurement, and best practices should be incorporated.
As part of the bid requirement, all training sub-contractors should include training assessments to ensure the skills have been taught and learned so adjustments can be made to ensure the outcomes are as expected.
In order to graduate from the program, the individual must meet or exceed previously established time and attendance requirements, successfully complete the training assessments to prove competency, attend and participate in the after hour courses, and meet all requirements of the commitment.
Graduates should be actively marketed to the industry for job placement immediately upon graduation.
Center Rail Strategies proposes a full solution that includes A-TOPS:
- Assessment and career coaching to ensure the individual’s path aligns with their personal skills, abilities interests and experiences to better ensure their long-term success.
- Training program placement in the career path defined during the assessment phase.
- On-the-job experience to apply learned skills from training to real world scenarios in preparation for job placement.
- Placement in a strong company dedicated to the further development and success of its workforce.
- Support to the individual and their employer from the assessment stage and through their new hire probationary period to create a smooth transition into the new environment. This includes the coordination of wrap around services from community programs that help to remove barriers of success like transportation, childcare, housing, health care access, and other essential service needs unique to the individual.