National Asso. of Home Builders-Offender Job Training Programs

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[Audio Begins]

Len Sipes: Okay, that is the other big lesson here, real world experience, meaning how, so they actually build things while they are part of the program?

John Hattery: They build. We do not talk about building house. We build houses, or we do things related to building houses. There is something on the order of 150 occupations or specialties involved in building a residential home right now, anyway from the landscaping guy, to the closet guy, to the drywall guy, to the painting guy, to the carpentry guy and so on and so forth.

What we do is that we reach out to the nonprofit governmental community in the surrounding area where our programs are located, and we say, if you are willing to buy the materials and pull the programs, we are willing to supply the labor as a learning opportunity for the inmates. With our youth programs, often times, we take them away from our training sites, outside the fence, and we take them to Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, and a whole lot of other folks where we go and do this work, and it gives people the opportunity to get their hands dirty.

You know, it’s very easy to get a young person a job as a roofer, if I’ve got a picture of them on a roof, putting down a roof. Within in correctional environments, where access to the community is not an option, such as Sheridan, we bring that work in. In fact, we right now are working our third, just for this year, our third Habitat for Humanity house where the wall materials are coming in the sally port, into the prison.

Len Sipes: They are building a house inside the prison.

John Hattery: We are building the panelized walls, including the electrical rough-in for the Habitat of Humanity for Southwest Chicago. The walls go back on a tractor trailer, go out the sally port, go to the community and get set up.

Now, it would be wonderful if I could get the guys to go help set the walls, but it is just not , they are in prison, there is a problem with that. Apparently, they are very interested in keeping people inside the fence, and that’s okay with me.

Len Sipes: That’s the funny thing about the prison system.

John Hattery: But invaluable experience. I mean, here is a picture here, and I know this is radio and you cannot see a picture, but there is a young woman from our Project Trade Program in Pinellas County Florida who is on a roof, who is going to be, if she wants to be a roofer in Pinellas County Florida, I am pretty sure we can get her a job doing that, just on the strength of this picture.

Len Sipes: So many questions, and we are running out of time. We are going to do another program immediately after this. Now, I am assuming that these individuals, in many cases young individuals, and in many cases who have been battered by life in a hundred different ways, and I’m not making any excuses in terms of their own criminality, but the honest to God correlation of crime, and connection to crime, is that they have a substance abuse history, that they raised themselves, and that they were in many cases victims of abuse and neglect as kids. I mean, they carry an edge with them because of all of the difficulties. Some of these young individuals caught up in crime almost are veterans of war zones.

Again, they are unique individuals. Is there something here about the building trades where they say to themselves, “You know what, son of a gun, I’m not doing very well in life, but I can be a bricklayer, and from what these guys are telling me I can earn 30-40- 50-thousand dollars a year being a bricklayer if I go out there and do the apprentice program.” I mean, what it is it that allows them to cross the bridge to be successful in terms of the building trades? What is it about the building trades that attracts success in terms of this particular clientele?

John Hattery: Well, I think, particularly with men, many of them are athletes. Many of them like being active. Many of the, you know, the classroom was not the scene of their greatest success, and so the opportunity to learn while doing experiential learning, contextual learning, I think, is an advantage that the construction trades have over some of the other more classroom-based training programs that might be available to them, but beyond the fact that we’ve got this industry-validated curriculum, and we’ve got this great opportunity to sweat and be dirty all day, and that’s appealing to a lot of guys, you also have caring staff members who reach out and, you know, a lot of it is really based on the really excellent committed professionals that we are very lucky to find in all the places where we operate.

I mean, for example, we have a youth program in Hartford, Connecticut that had its inaugural graduation yesterday, and I was privileged to be there. Nine young people, including two young women, got pre-apprenticeship certificates in facilities maintenance. The real telling thing was ,

Len Sipes: And we are not talking about months. We are talking about ,

John Hattery: No, we are talking about wiring and plumbing ,

Len Sipes: We are talking about skilled, high-paying jobs.

John Hattery: Yes, we are not talking about making people janitors. That’s not what it is about. However, the real telling thing for the program was the way that our instructor there, Marty, really connected with the young people and made them understand how much he cared about them, and even when they made mistakes and ended up , you know, one person, for instance, spent some time in detention because he did something silly when he was actually still part of our community-based program there, but Marty did , you know, Marty did an excellent job of pulling in/reeling that young person back in, getting him reconnected and recommitted to the program, and then ultimately was able to get him to a place where we can give him a Department of Labor recognized certificate of pre-apprenticeship attainment.

Len Sipes: And then they go out and apprentice?

John Hattery: Well, it used to be that a pre-apprenticeship program was connected to an apprenticeship program, and that was the only avenue, right? That has kind of changed in the landscape. Tony Swoop, who used to run the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Office of Apprenticeship in the US Department of Labor, is now on record as stating that pre-apprenticeship is a great first step, and it can take you in a number of directions. It can take you to an apprenticeship program. They are out there, and they are great, and they do wonderful things for kids.

Len Sipes: But this can take you to a job?

John Hattery: It can take you to your first job. It can take you to continuing education, and in some cases where, you know, the present administration has put some resources towards articulation agreements between trade organizations, community colleges, you know, there are some cases in the world where you can actually finish an apprenticeship while at the same time getting an associates degree and finishing high school kind of all involved in the same set of activities.

So, you know, it really, going all the way back to your original question, the activity, building a house, that’s a lot of fun. If you like using tools, that’s a lot of fun. Beyond that, it’s really fun if you’ve got an adult there who is willing to believe in you and who is willing to walk into a business with you and say, “This young person, or this person has worked with our program for six months, and yeah, they got themselves in trouble, at some point, but let me tell you about what they have been doing for six months, and I think that maybe you can give this person a chance as a helper in your business.”

Len Sipes: We only have three minutes before the end of the program, and I’ve been really remiss. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is John Hattery, and John is with the National Association of Home Builders, and specifically the Workforce Development arm of the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute. The web address is, and I’m going to summarize John.

What you have told me is this, the Home Builders Associations throughout the country, they are doing a very good job of taking the “hard to employ” and they are training them and placing them on jobs, and what you are telling me is this, that there is an individualized approach, that you have a person and there soul job is job development. You’ve replaced them if necessary, because in some instances a person decides not to be a carpenter, but now he wants to be a bricklayer. The job involves hands on experience and they know what to do by the time they are done with the program. These are programs with a future. There is a clear job progression on that, and they are good paying programs, or good paying occupations at that, and it sounds like the major point that you are making is that there is a caring staff, and that caring and professional staff seems to reach out to these individuals where you guys have success, where in many instances a lot of similar programs do not have success.

John Hattery: Well, you know, and I don’t want to talk about other programs. I just know that we’ve got some folks that work very, very hard and we’ve had some really good success, and we’ve had some really excellent success stories, and some folks that are getting out of jail.

Now, we started this conversation by talking about some of the times and some of the feedback that we get back from the business community about ex-offenders and their performance on the job sites. You know, we have those stories too. We don’t knock every pitch out of the park, but our batting average will keep us in the major leagues for a very long time.

Len Sipes: Okay, John Hattery, from the National Association of Home Builders. Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening to DC Public Safety. The Website for the National Association of Home Builders and his particular program and have yourselves a very, very pleasant day.

[Audio Ends]

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