Springfield Launches Missouri Apprentice Ready Program

Liz WertzAFL-CIO, Education, Financial Stability, Health, Partners

Cohort #1

United Way of the Ozarks Supports Workforce Development Programs

The Missouri Apprentice Ready Program is a 5-week training course through the Missouri Works Initiative, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Missouri AFL-CIO.
Through a collaborative partnership with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, and as part of the Missouri Apprentice Ready initiative, the program offers an introduction to the construction industry to qualified participants in Springfield. Up to four Springfield cohorts are planned each year, in addition to programs in St. Louis and Kansas City.
“The goal is to create an industry-recognized point of entry into the construction trades for traditionally underrepresented groups, said Liz Wertz, AFL-CIO community services liaison. “It will create a more equitable, inclusive and diverse workforce while increasing the number of Missourians participating in registered construction apprenticeship programs.”
Teaching the History of the AFL-CIO and United Way Partnership

Classroom and Hands-on Training

The first cohort received foundational education on a variety of topics to ensure their success before entering the trades career field. They also gained hands-on experience to explore their options.

eliminate barriers to economic opportunities by connecting Missourians to the necessary resources to build life-sustaining careers, which includes expanding construction education and training opportunities for the un- and underemployed, minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups within the construction industry through its efforts under the Missouri Apprentice Ready program.

AFL-CIO and United Way Partnership

Participants learned the historic relevance of the AFL-CIO and United Way Partnership, which provided context for resources they could receive during the program and as union members.

Their AFL-CIO community services liaison will:

  • Provide referral services to workers and their families through unemployment and crisis events.
  • Coordinate volunteer events to provide service and support to the community.
  • Build and maintain the relationship with the Springfield Central Labor Council.
  • Contribute to initiatives that improve support systems, public and private, for workers and their families.
  • Improve the social and economic conditions of working families to reduce their need for services and assistance.

Creating Community Connections

United Way of the Ozark believes in the power of collaboration. Its members strive to be the convener of resources. By bridging our knowledge of resources in the community, United Way of the Ozarks is able to provide avenues for recruitment of each cohort and connections to resources.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Part of creating a more equitable, inclusive and diverse workforce involves starting conversations around DEI. Community Partnership of the Ozarks guided the class through these important discussions. Using the Inclusive Excellence Model, the class discussed ways to make entities and organizations inclusive and excellent for everyone. Bringing these expectations on the job is an important part of creating a more inclusive workforce within the construction industry.

Financial Literacy

A requirement of the Missouri Apprentice Ready program includes financial literacy training. Participants are prepared for or strengthen their ability to make financial decisions once they start a job. Training objectives include:
  • Constructing a budget.
  • Devising a strategy for saving and debt management.
  • Defining and planning for financial security.
Community Partnership of the Ozarks guided the class through a condensed version of Making Sense of Money. The program provides opportunities for individuals and families to gain knowledge, skills and assets to further expand economic opportunities.

  Visiting the Job Site

Participants gained hands-on experience at apprenticeship training centers and visited job sites.
The following apprenticeship facilities were visited:
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #178
  • IBEW Local #453
  • Ironworkers Local #10
  • Laborers Local #663
  • Bricklayers Local #15
The following unions also sent representatives to talk to the class:
  • Carpenters Local #978
  • Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local #518

Graduation Day

May 13 marked the first graduation for the Missouri Apprentice Ready Program in Springfield.

The program was led by Greta Bax, executive director of the Missouri Works Initiative, and Dr. Amy Patillo, field specialist in labor and workforce development, with support from Jake Hummel, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO. The program’s new coordinator Austin Fox, started June 1, and will take on the duty of leading the program in Springfield.

Among the graduates is Cijie Potts, who quickly began her apprentice with Laborers Local #663. You can learn more about Cijie’s five-week journey to success on our blog.

An opportunity for the community 

Entrance to the free pre-apprentice program is by application. Candidates for the program may be un- or underemployed, minorities, women and other underrepresented groups within the construction industry. Four programs are planned each year.

To learn more about participation requirements, preferred credentials and the application process, visit the Missouri Works Initiative.