Palmer Pathways Sets Course For Trades Industry 

August 30, 2022

As one of WorkForce Central’s Young Adult Service Providers, Palmer Scholars, through its Pathways program, serves young adults between the ages of 18-26 who are not connected to higher education or gainful employment and have an interest in pursuing a career in the trades.

The pre-apprenticeship program offers 345 hours of instruction over two phases and prepares participants for the next step in their apprenticeship journey.

The program initially started in 2019, but due to COVID and other funding setbacks was brought back in 2021 with a cohort graduating ten pre-apprentices in April of this year. A new cohort started in June and continues through the summer.

“A four-year degree isn’t the only way to gainful employment,” said Christina Rupp, Director of Postsecondary Pathways.

The Pathways Program is set up in two parts.

“Many of the participants have zero experience using a tool,” Rupp said. “The first phase gets them hands-on with tools. It teaches them how to use them safely and the basics of construction math.”

Palmers uses a program called Skill Plan that offers free online foundational construction math suited for 14 construction trades. Participants are provided Chromebooks to assist with upskilling outside the classroom.

This first phase, which is six weeks long, allows participants to evaluate and help decide if working in the trades is the right path for them. Classes start early in the morning, in line with the trades, and participants are expected to be on time.

During this phase, participants can explore careers and receive support services like resume development and interviewing skills. They get three certifications during Phase 1: CPR/First Aid, Flagger, and Forklift.

Summer cohort Scholars practicing the measurement of drywall for the tiny home framing. The cohort will complete the tiny home by September and donate to the Multi-Cultural Child and Family Hope Center.

During both phases of the program, participants apply the skills they are learning by working together to build a tiny home from design to completion. At the end of the program, it is then donated to the Multi-Cultural Child and Family Hope Center. 

If a participant decides not to go beyond Phase One, they still leave the program will skills and certifications that will get them into employment. 

Summer cohort Scholars working on the framing and joists for the tiny home they will complete by September and donate to the Multi-Cultural Child and Family Hope Center.

Palmers will work with them on a career plan. Rupp says it is OK to change your mind, and if someone finds a trade program outside of Palmers that works better for them, they can always apply for a Palmers Scholarship. 

If a participant moves onto Phase Two, they will begin eight weeks of intensive core crafts training. By the end of the program, they will have six industry certifications, including PPE/BBP, OSHA 10 and OSHA30 (Construction), Flagging, Forklift, and Aerial/Scissor Lift. 

The Pre-Apprentices will then be connected with 16 options for apprenticeship programs. Since completing the program in April, the majority of the pre-apprentices have moved onto apprenticeships or are in line to start.

 “There is one apprentice working locally as a bricklayer on a Tacoma apartment complex,” Rupp said. “There are also participants who got into an Ironworkers Union, a plumber apprenticeship, a tile setter, and several other pending or starting this summer.”

 The current cohort has 11 participants, 3 being women. 

“We definitely want to see more women get into the trades,” Rupp said. 

For more information, visit the Palmer Pathways website.

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