BUILD program works to prepare a new generation of skilled trades workers

April 30th, 2018

By Kevin Kilbane | News-Sentinel

Friends Yohansen Fincher, 31, and Darreise McCarter, 28, had similar reasons for enrolling in the BUILD program.

“I thought about my wife, my kids,” Fincher said. “I wanted a legitimate way to support my family.”

“I figure I need a goal, something that can help me long-term in the future,” McCarter said.

They were among 18 BUILD program participants going through the class graduation ceremony Friday at the Fort Wayne Urban League.

This was the fifth graduating class for the program, which began in 2015 and is held at the Urban League in partnership with building trades groups and their Indiana Plan jobs training program, said Leroy Jackson, Fort Wayne Urban League BUILD program director.

BUILD stands for Building Trades, Urban League, Indiana Plan and Local Diversity, said Darryl Esterline, president of the Northeast Indiana Building Trades group and business representative for the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 20 trade union.

The program’s goal is to start training people to become the next generation of skilled trades workers and to increase the cultural diversity of the skilled trades workforce, said Esterline, who was one of the speakers at the graduation ceremony.

Right now, the average age of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen is 48-53, Esterline said. In the coming years, probably one of every five current skilled trades workers will have to be replaced.

During four weeks of training, BUILD program participants learn a variety of jobs skills, ranging from tool recognition and math skills to conflict resolution and how to work collaboratively with others on a project, Jackson said.

Graduates also leave with several certifications that will give them an edge over others when applying for apprenticeships, he said.

Jackson said 100 percent of BUILD graduates get job or apprenticeship interviews, and 95 percent land a job.

“They are going to come out of this with not a handout, but a leg up,” Esterline said.

BUILD graduates who are accepted into an apprenticeship program will receive training in their field and earn a two-year degree from Ivy Tech Community College, he said. During the apprenticeship, they will receive a livable wage and health benefits.

Once the person advances to earning his or her journeyman card, their salary range will be $60,000 to $80,000 per year, Esterline said.

The BUILD program also brings in new workers who can help skilled trades membership reflect the cultural diversity of the community where they work and live, said Glenn Head, a field representative for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 4.

“We need more programs like this,” said Head, who also spoke to graduates Friday.

“This is just the beginning,” BUILD program participant Fincher said before the graduation ceremony. “There are many more steps to go.”

His goal: To get his journeyman electrician’s card.

He and his wife, Kiesha, eventually hope to start a business they can pass on to their children, he said.

McCarter also hopes to become an electrician and to give back to the community.

“I want to use my skills to be useful to others,” he said.


The BUILD program is open to anyone. For more information about the program or the next training class, call the Fort Wayne Urban League at (260) 745-3100 or stop by its offices at 2135 S. Hanna St.