Providing Resources to Workers
Many Latino workers have impressive construction skills but they are handicapped because they have cannot secure steady employment. Workers have the skills, but they are not certified to work in the building trades: installing drywall, plumbing or carpentry. Consequently, wages are low. For example, the average annual salary for Latina women is $26,900. Whereas, the average salary for a plumber is $46,500.
Recognizing the need for a new building trades academy to meet the needs of DC day laborers, TUWDC advocated for a school for Spanish-speaking workers. TUWDC worked together with the United Planning Organization (UPO) to create a brand new UPO Spanish-language Building Trades School. After many months of discussion, the new school opened its doors in 2015. UPO hired a bilingual, bicultural construction expert to lead the classroom instruction and hands-on training. The goal of UPO’s new Spanish-language Building Maintenance Professional program is to provide training in construction trades that builds the 21st century skills and work experience of student/trainees to enable them to obtain higher wages, sustainable employment and enhanced skills for higher degrees of self-sufficiency and independence. Students will learn, in addition to trade skills, effective jobsite communication, problem solving, professional behavior, and organizational skills necessary for successful careers in Building Maintenance.