Don Bosco PS@ Pre Apprentice ProgramJan. 22, 2018 -- Westchester County Executive George Latimer honored the first class of the Don Bosco/P2A Pre-Apprenticeship Pilot Program with a graduation ceremony at the County Office Building in White Plains. Surrounded by family and friends, the ten graduates from communities all across Westchester were presented with a certificate of training for completing the 140-hour course in pre-apprenticeship training.

Latimer said, “I am humbled by these hard-working men, and this astounding accomplishment. These graduates are sending a powerful message to people who may be struggling in their career. They are saying that it doesn’t matter your struggles -- you can study hard and succeed, providing a better future for you and your family.”

The program is the first of its kind in Westchester, paid for with private funding from local affiliates of the Westchester Building Trades and others. More than 100 candidates applied for the four weeks of instruction, which focused on job readiness as well as other necessary skills to enter the unionized construction industry.

“This is breakthrough, this is transformative,” said Dr. Ann Heekin, Executive Director of Don Bosco Community Center of Port Chester. “This is what worker center spaces should be getting to next. It’s just not enough to keep people going day to day. We want to build people up, launch them and let them start careers that will take them to a more respectful life, a dignified life.”

“Pre-apprenticeship programs like this provide a direct pathway for local residents to get a lifelong career in the unionized construction industry,” said Edward Doyle, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties. “Cities and towns across Westchester are being transformed by new developments. These developments should create good jobs and middle class career opportunities for local residents. I look forward to working together with the county to create more union jobs for local Westchester County residents and expanding pre-apprenticeship programs.”

Don Bosco Workers partnered with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties and P2A, a New York State Department of Labor-Certified Program, to launch the pre-apprenticeship class for Westchester County in November 2017. To date, two graduates have already been accepted into union apprenticeship programs, while other graduates are in the process of interviewing with participating local unions.

James Lott of New Rochelle, was the first graduate to be hired by District Council 9 Painters Union, “I’m blessed. This is a great opportunity and it’s life changing. The union makes a commitment to you. You don’t have stress, you don’t have worries or doubts about your job. You know you’re going to stick and stay, because you’re getting vacation pay, a pension, annuity and health care -- and that within itself is invaluable.”

Alexander Fuentes of Mamaroneck said the program is allowing him to provide a better future for his family: “My son, just in this little moment here today, he looks at me and says to himself ‘My father is doing it, so I’m going to do it too.’ It’s making him play harder in sports, try harder in school - and that makes me proud of myself to be his father.”

Latimer said he looks forward to building on the success of the program in 2018 and beyond, expanding pre-apprenticeship programs in Westchester County and providing additional union career opportunities for residents regardless of their background.